Moonlight Mile

Writer-Director Brad Silberling had more to deal with than grief when his actress girlfriend, Rebecca Schaeffer, was killed by a stalker in 1989: There was his relationship with her parents. Out of that sorrow, Silberling has fashioned a movie about a guy named Joe (Jake Gyllenhaal) who sticks around his murdered fiancée's Massachusetts town to go into the commercial real estate business with her father, Ben (Dustin Hoffman). Ben's wife, JoJo (Susan Sarandon), uses humor to ease the pain, but things get worse when the family lawyer (Holly Hunter) fails to bring the killer to justice. For a story based on truth, the emotions play as counterfeit. The actors all have splashy speeches that ring theatrical and false. Add the contrivance of sex between Joe and a similarly bereft postal clerk, shrewdly underplayed by Ellen Pompeo, and the film falls into the teary trap that In the Bedroom avoided. Silberling's past films (Casper, City of Angels) trafficked in goo; this one sinks in it.

From The Archives Issue 907: October 17, 2002