Moonlight Mile

Brad Silberling had directed two previous films — 1995’s Casper and 1998’s Wings of Desire remake City of Angels. His third is far, far better, possibly because he wrote it himself and it comes out of something real. Silberling was dating actress Rebecca Schaeffer at the time of her murder at the hands of a stalker in 1989. He uses the experience to tell the story of Joe (Jake Gyllenhaal), whose fiancée has recently been killed. Joe stays with her parents (Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon), each dealing with grief in his or her own way — Hoffman is always thinking of other people’s feelings, Sarandon couldn’t care less and is acerbic and withering towards attempts to console her. This very small movie quiets its cast down and guides them into subtle, human-scaled performances. Holly Hunter turns up as the D.A. representing the parents in the murder trial, but Silberling seems to agree with us that the outcome of the trial doesn’t really matter. A fine drama with a nicely judged selection of morose oldies (the film is set in 1973). Also with Ellen Pompeo as a postal worker with whom Joe pursues a tentative connection.

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