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Floyd, the owner of a bar on the Texas coast, has been depressed for a year after his wife disappeared in a swimming accident. He lives with his senile father-in-law "The General" and is helped by Jimmy, a former asylum inmate, and the good-natured Louise. The bar is rapidly losing money and Charlie wants to buy it cheaply before it becomes publicly known that a nearby bridge is to be built. Louise offers her savings to go into partnership with Floyd, but Floyd decides to sell when he is forced to pay his back taxes. Written by
The loss of a loved one, especially a spouse or a child, can be devastating on the one left behind; and without some kind of closure, that same love, combined with the loss, can lead to an unhealthy obsession in which the object of that devotion can emerge as something so perfect that none among the living could ever hope to measure up to it. And it's just such a situation that is explored by director Peter Masterson in `Full Moon In Blue Water,' the story of a man who, even after many months, cannot come to terms with the loss of his wife, and has, by clinging so vehemently to her memory, effectively removed himself from the world of the living, despite the efforts of others who are close to him and depend upon him, including the woman who would love him-- if only he would give her the chance.
Floyd (Gene Hackman) is the owner of the Blue Water Grill, situated on the coast of the Texas Gulf in the small town of Blue Water. He's made a living at it since ending a stint as a merchant marine, and it's pretty much all he knows. And for a time, when he shared it all with his beloved Dorothy (Becky Ann Baker), it was the perfect life. But it all ended when Dorothy disappeared one day out on the gulf, and was presumed drowned; a tragedy from which Floyd has never recovered. Now he spends his days watching home movies of his wife, reliving the moments they shared, which become even more perfect with every day that passes, and with each additional viewing. He's let his business slide, and doesn't realize-- or perhaps just doesn't care-- what a dangerous, downward spiral he's on.
Floyd may be content wallowing in his discontent and misery, but there are those who need him and love him, and refuse to give up on him: His invalid father-in-law, The General (Burgess Meredith), would be lost without Floyd, as would Jimmy (Elias Koteas), the simpleton Floyd provides with a living by employing him for odd jobs around the restaurant, and as a companion for The General. But most especially, there's Louise (Teri Garr), a woman who cares deeply for Floyd, but just can't get through to him-- she simply can't live up to the image of perfection Floyd holds in his mind of Dorothy. But there's something else troubling Louise, too. She knows that real estate broker Charlie O'Donnell (Kevin Cooney) has made an offer to buy Floyd's place, and for a sum that's half of what it's worth. And in his diminished mental state, Floyd may be about to make one of the biggest mistakes of his life; Louise, however, is determined to avert it from happening. If only she can get through to Floyd in time; if only she can break through that wall of Dorothy's memory.
Masterson delivers his story in a straightforward manner, without attempting any frills, tricks or exaggerations in an effort to heighten the drama. He simply gives you a story that is what it is; a look at the twists and turns life can take, and how when something happens to one it affects, not only that person, but those around him, and in turn, those around them. Subtly, but very definitely, it underscores the symbiotic nature of mankind and succinctly drives home the point that, indeed, no man is an island. As this film so aptly demonstrates, whether we choose to believe it or not, there is no such thing as absolute autonomy. Somewhere along the line, directly or indirectly, the behavior of one is going to have an effect on someone else. It's the underlying message of this film, and it's presented quite effectively by Masterson, although his approach is a bit too academic, perhaps. Human emotion forms the core of the story, and yet the film is not as emotionally involving as it could-- or should-- be. Masterson manages to maintain interest, but without that hook that would have really engaged his audience. Still, it's a good job, the film is well delivered and offers a satisfying experience, albeit one that could have been much more.
As Floyd, Hackman gives a solid performance, creating a character that is believable and real. He gets neither too maudlin nor morbid with his portrayal, even in the depths of his depression, which tells us something about who Floyd really is: a guy who feels deeply, but is capable of bouncing back. Hackman makes him someone with whom you can empathize, but without getting too close. Everyone will be able to relate to Floyd on some level, inasmuch as loss is something we all have to deal with at one time or another, though that sense of identity is more of an inherent aspect of the story rather than due to anything that Hackman brings to it. It's Hackman's expertise, however, that maintains the film's credibility and makes that sense of identity accessible. And that's why Hackman's a star; he makes what he does convincing, as he does here, with a performance that is, in it's simplicity, natural and affecting.
Teri Garr is effective, as well, turning in a sympathetic performance through which she successfully conveys, not only her love and concern for Floyd, but her frustrations in coping with the intangible and impenetrable image of Dorothy that Floyd has created in his mind. Garr is entirely convincing as Louise, lending her a blue-collar charm that she sells with her natural, charismatic screen presence.
It's the supporting efforts by Koteas and Meredith that really makes this film click, however. Koteas finds just the right tone and shadings to make the hapless Jimmy convincing, and Meredith is a delight as the lovable old curmudgeon embraced by Floyd, in that he is his last link to Dorothy. `Full Moon In Blue Water,' then, is a meditation on life; and one that's definitely worth a look. I rate this one 7/10.
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