It’s no secret we have poor reasoning as we try to govern others, it’s a mindset that the 1980s rom-com Moonstruck of course strikes us with to acute perfection. It knows good and well how bad of a place we are really trapped in, struck by our own desire to be above someone else. It’s definitely true in the case of men wanting to be the boss over women, and it’s true as well with women wanting to see men suffer. Instead, common ground between the sexes must be met, and this movie strikes our nerves right where it most needs to be poked.
Though in what it does to correct our behavior, there was no reason for this to be rated PG, kids will just be bored watching this, and heck, grown-ups of today could be bored too by the very bland and ordinary way the camera moves. Co-lead Ronny (Nicolas Cage) is not a good role model for other men like him, he’s such a bad human being, even the camera doesn’t want to keep focus on him. So yes, you can say that means this movie hasn’t aged very well, despite its strong portrayal of Italians.
Yet for the most part, its correction of our behavior works really well. A small picture of Jesus is included in the background, plus a photo of the Pope who looks like he’s blessing the main character Loretta (Cher) while she’s on the phone. She’s very different than her fiancé Johnny (Danny Aiello), who keeps forgetting his suitcases—that tells you a lot about his character’s true imperfection, and why she’s too good for him. These doses keep the movie at just the right intimate scale; while some things like a special effect shot of the moon looks proportionately too big compared to the city skyline, it’s nice to have those other small things to balance it all out. It’s also got very Italian doses with familiar household elements such as the eggs inside bread for breakfast. It’s great to see those very energizing bits of worldbuilding be as wonderful as they attempt to be.
This movie even knows how to scare us into humbling ourselves in front of others through the framing techniques. In a restaurant, the camera shoots through frame décor to close in on the tension of the couple sitting at the table, increasing the reminder of how dangerous yet important it is to be close to people. Being stuck in our homes has taught me the importance of having loved ones around, so I understand the pain of Ronny. Him losing his hand keeps others from loving him, a sad reality that justifies his clear incapacity to love people. Even the priest of the nearby cathedral doesn’t seem capable of fully loving, as only his hands are shown; it gives more to the stakes Loretta is holding onto at that moment. It helps in the moment when she, along with everyone else, reacts in different ways to the full moon, it’s beautiful to see them all unite that way despite their lack of love for one another. Loretta is challenged on what love is about, as she drips tears from her cheeks from watching the opera, you fear what it’ll mean for her afterward. Then with the tears of sadness, there’s tears of laughter from the funny performance of Vincent Gardenia, who plays her unrighteous father, a prideful pig who does comes off as a walking lightning rod of sin.
Horrible would not be a word to describe how this film uplifts our hope in our relationships with people. While it may first discourage our bad behavior, it pulls us back up on the bootstraps. It does so with a lovely shot of the moon as a plane takes off in front of it, blackening it to foreshadow the oddly funny way these men try to control women, and failing miserably. There’s only one man who isn’t trying to control any women, in fact, it’s an older man who tries to control five dogs! Yet he’s so bad at controlling the hounds, one of them even pees in a cemetery! He’s in a much better spot though than Loretta, whose husband was hit by a bus seven years earlier; it’s not comfortable to watch her suffer, but you are able to understand her anger. Though what happens throughout this film can be quite infuriating, the moonlight creates lovely patterns through the window, like the light from a confessional booth. It also highlights the multiple times the dialogue presses how the reason men chase women is because they fear death. So what it does to enlighten you toward healthier relationships isn’t half bad!
The other half though has morality issues that could lead to more broken relationships. All of the main characters cheat, and it’s not completely seen as harmful from all ends, it would have helped if the priest was more of an actual character instead of just hands, that way every individual who has an affair can feel convicted for the harm they’ve done. In fact, these characters are rewarded for dishonesty against their religion, they’re as fake as the obvious matte paintings that create the unconvincing establishing shots of New York City. Though as long as you’re aware of those issues, the rest of the film should benefit your perspective.
Our desire to govern others is not necessarily a desire that comes from the drive of someone higher than ourselves. Instead, our reasoning for this mindset comes from our love for things. Objects to us are more valuable than people. Just as said by John Green, “People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos, is because things are being loved and people are being used.” Because of that unhealthy way of life, we’re in a bad place struck by materialism, and don’t even want to get out of it. With the whole “greed is good” plague that pressed the toxicity of the 1980s, it was very timely for a movie like Moonstruck to come out and remind us all, even today in 2020, what it really means to love people and not things.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!