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A fifteen year marriage dissolves, leaving both the husband and wife, and their four children, devastated. He's preoccupied with a career and a mistress, she with a career and caring for four young children. While they attempt to go their separate ways, jealousy and bitterness reconnect them. Written by
Philip Gilman <email@example.com>
A brilliantly told tale of a family falling apart .
The title "Shoot the moon" refers to a move that can be made in a card game where the highest possible outcome can be obtained by the risky strategy of achieving the lowest possible score. This description symbolises the events that happen as the story unfolds.
Director Alan Parker (Midnight express, Angel Heart) made one of the most haunting movies about human reaction to a domestic crisis ever done with "Shoot the Moon." Featuring a beautifully written script by Bo Goldman (one flew over the cuckoo's nest) and well measured performances by a solid cast.
The film begins with George Dunlap (Albert Finney) and his wife Faith (Diane Keaton) attending an awards dinner. It is clear from the outset that the marriage is in trouble. George is sarcastic and snaps comments at his wife, whilst Faith is distant and preoccupied. The early scenes, brilliantly underplayed by the two leads, show a couple who keep up appearances for their children and colleagues but who privately have lost their way.
When it is revealed that George is having an affair with another woman, the ensuing sequence of events depict a complete breakdown in the family unit with each member of the house reacting differently to the drama.
The scene where Diane Keaton is soaking in the bath and manages to convey a dozen different emotions with her facial expressions whilst singing "If I fell" is incredibly moving. Perhaps even more powerful a scene though, is where George turns up to the family home unannounced to give his eldest daughter her birthday present, only to be shut out of the existence he used to be a part of and treated as an unwanted outsider. It is a sequence shown with characters displaying desperate and raw emotions completely without sentiment as the gravity of what George has done becomes evident.
Finney and Keaton are on top of their game here as is a young Dana Hill (who tragically died prematurely from diabetes) whose scenes with Finney are heartbreaking. Peter Weller also gives good support with a subtle performance as the new man in Faith's life.
A scene where the two leads have a fight over dinner in a hotel feels a bit out of place with the somber tone of the rest of the movie and was probably added to give some comic relief to the audience after so much depression. The film makers also seemed to go "Hollywood" with the ending which seems out of sorts with the rest of the story.
When Oscar time came around in 1982, "Shoot the Moon" was ignored. The film's depressing story was certainly out of character with the main stream features of the day, but more significantly a factor perhaps was that Robert Redfords "Ordinary People" had already covered the family falling to pieces story in 1980 and the academy had honoured the film heavily. There was likely a reluctance by the academy voters to recognise a similar film in the same way so soon.
"Shoot the Moon" is a harrowing tale of how decisions have tragic consequences for others and how sometimes you only realise what kept you going in life, after you've thrown it away.
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