BRAD SILBERLING’S MOONLIGHT MILE — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Infused with a tragic sense of personal melancholy as his wife was murdered in real life, writer/director Brad Silberling’s unfairly neglected 2002 drama Moonlight Mile is a heartfelt and consistently moving piece of cinema that features sterling work from Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon as grieving parents, baby-faced Jake Gyllenhaal as their emotionally stunted would-be son-in-law who decides to stick around in the immediate aftermath of his fiancée’s death, reluctantly going into business with the man whom he would’ve called dad, and Ellen Pompeo as a local bartender/post-office clerk who catches Gyllenhaal’s sad eye and who is also nursing her own bit of heartbreak. Beautifully captured by cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (The Weather Man, Nebraska, 3:10 To Yuma) in dark tones and a brown-black-orange color palette that is frequently gorgeous in an off-kilter manner thanks to his interesting choice in camera placement, Silberling’s emotionally delicate screenplay fed right into the fragile mindsets of his characters, with the story moving in unexpected directions while still containing its fair-share of overtly audience pleasing moments. I really hope that this film gets the Blu-ray transfer upgrade that it so deserves.

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The film’s soundtrack is absolutely stunning (and sadly out of print on compact disc so very expensive via third party sellers on Amazon) and features classic tracks from The Rolling Stones (the film takes its name from their song), Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Robert Plant, and many more. Silberling is an interesting filmmaker with an eclectic set of credits; I rather enjoyed his stylish and bittersweet City of Angels, and his bizarre and trippy sci-fi comedy Land of the Lost is better than most people gave it credit for being. But this is easily his most assured piece of storytelling, and I wonder why he hasn’t become more prolific throughout the years. There’s always been “something” about Moonlight Mile that has grabbed me, and I’m not sure, outside of the obvious and previously stated, what that “something” exactly is. And upon multiple viewings, and as I’ve gotten older, the performances from Hoffman and Sarandon have gotten even richer and more affecting; the narrative looks at life in a very direct fashion, finding awkward humor in certain spots that challenges your pre-existing expectations of films such as this. It’s nice to see that Silberling has a new film coming out later this year…

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