Quarantine Movie Review: Moonstruck

I know. Watching a Cher movie from the 80s doesn’t sound like something that would be high up on my “things I want to do in quarantine” list. I’ve seen it once before, and I remembered liking it quite a bit, but that was it. I don’t even remember who I watched it with. I could have sworn it was Denisa, but she’s convinced she wasn’t involved. I also thought I reviewed it on the blog, but I can’t find a record of that either. Maybe I’m losing it.

In any case, it’s on Daniela’s list, and two nights ago its number came up. (It’s on Prime Video.) I was a bit hesitant about the rewatch (I had been hoping for Magnificent Seven. Life’s full of disappointments), but after seeing it again, I’m really glad I did. I had forgotten just how good a movie it is. There’s a reason it was won 3 Oscars (Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay) and was nominated for 3 more (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor). Cher does a genuinely great job in the movie, and Nic Cage is . . . Nic Cage.

The movie feels like a high brow predecessor to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It fits into this fairly unique space where it’s a comedy, drama, and art movie all at once. Cher plays an Italian woman engaged to be married to a man she doesn’t love, but “likes” a lot. Then she falls for his younger brother. That sounds like a terrible set up for a plot. Way too overdone, and really hackneyed, but in practice . . . it all just comes together so well. Not in the typical romantic-comedy trope filled way, but somehow in a much truer-to-real-life vein.

There were multiple parts of the movie that just struck me as very authentic. Case in point: Cher agrees to see Nic Cage one more time after falling for him. He tells her that if she would just go to the opera with him one time, that would be all he’d need for the rest of his life. (I know. It sounds stupid. But it works in the dream-like state the movie somehow manages to occupy successfully.) Cher wants to keep her engagement to his brother, but she can’t resist one night at the opera, so she says yes.

But instead of just getting dressed in whatever she has on hand, she gets herself a complete makeover. Dyes her hair, buys a nice dress and shoes, has a manicure. The works. All for this date that just isn’t supposed to matter that much, because it’s the last time she’s going to see this guy. Nic Cage, when she first met him, was a mess. Unshaven and unkempt. He looks like a tortured slob. She gets completely dressed up to the nines, and then goes to the Met to meet him outside. He turns around, and it’s clear he’s done the same thing she has: he’s dressed in a tux, he shaved, and he looks 1000% better.

It struck me out of the blue: the memory of doing the same thing for Denisa on our first date. I’d asked her out when my original date for the weekend fell through. I didn’t even know Denisa that well, but I had the tickets and I didn’t want them to go to waste. She showed up at the library where I was working a few hours before the date, to get some research done. She looked great. Somehow I suddenly saw her in a light I’d never really paid attention to before. As soon as I was off work, I had a few hours before the date. I spent them cleaning my car and trying to make myself look as good as I could. Trust me: I didn’t clean my car for anybody, but there I was, cleaning it for her. When I picked her up, she’d changed again, and she looked even better than she had in the afternoon. I was very glad I’d vacuumed the seats.

So all of that memory came from out of the blue to hit me between the eyes when Cher and Nic Cage see each other for the first time for that date at the opera. It wasn’t heavy handed. It didn’t involve this big scene that telegraphed LOOK HOW THEY’RE DOING THE SAME THING. In fact, we didn’t even see Cage getting ready.

It all just worked. It’s hard to get something like that to go off without a hitch.

I gave the movie a 9/10. Is it perfect? Not quite. There were a few scenes that dragged a bit for me, and the plot got a bit muddled from time to time, but overall, it was a movie that made me think about what love meant and how different people express it. The finale of the film is great stuff.

Bottom line? If you’ve never watched this movie (or watched it only once a long time ago), it deserves your attention. Daniela didn’t particularly care for it. It’s not a kid movie, but if you’re up for some real entertainment that isn’t handed to you with a bowl of popcorn, give this one a shot.

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