This Oscar-winning comedy could be described as an Italian Woody Allen film, only less neurotic and more warm-hearted. We meet an Italian-American family which all live in the big mansion of Cosmo Castorini, a surprisingly financially at ease plumber. He’s married to the bitter Rose, and they have a daughter, Loretta. She’s a widow in her late thirties who wants to settle down for good in life. Hence, she’s about to marry Johnny Cammareri, even though she doesn’t love him. When her fiancÃ© flies to Sicily to his dying mother’s bed, he asks her one favor: to convince his younger brother to come to their wedding, even though they’re been in a feud for the last 5 years. But when Loretta meets Ronnie, a hot-blooded, Opera-loving baker, love springs out instantly. At the same time, her father is having an affair, and her mother also explores the idea of a new man. And then there’s her folks’ couple of friends who rediscover love together, and on top of all this, Cosmo’s old and cranky father, who lives with upstairs with his five dogs!
As you can see, this is not just the story of one love. It’s an ensemble piece, a peek at the life of a family. It’s extremely well written, and the screenplay won a well-deserved Oscar. This is a feel good movie that has interesting things to say about life, family and love. And it’s all so funny! The characters are wonderful, the dialogue is perky, and I love the lyrical language of Italians from Brooklyn. The film is also masterfully directed by Norman Jewison. While depicting these people’s lives, he kinda paces the whole thing to the mysterious power of a magnificent full moon (therefore the title). It’s as if that beautiful moon was responsible for what happens to them. Ain’t it sweet?
For a talkative piece like this, it’s important to have a great cast, and believe me, this film sure does. The lead is played by Cher, who’s surprisingly good. She never has been funnier of more convincing. She’s almost glowing through the film. That’s probably why she won an Oscar for that incredible performance. I don’t know if she’s really Italian, but if she’s not, her acting sure fooled me. Most of the cast is definitely Italian, that’s for sure. Cher’s folks are brilliantly played by Vincent Gardenia and Olympia Dukakis (she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar), and the extended family is also flawlessly interpreted.
The estranged brothers are played by the hyper talented Nicolas Cage and Danny Aiello. Aiello does what he does best, the middle-age Italian. Cage delivers an astonishing performance. In “Moonstruck”, he shows his Italian side (he was born a Coppola), and he turns his part in a tour de force. The character, a pissed baker with a wooden hand, is already promising, but Cage takes it to another level. He said he tried to play it like the beast in “Beauty and the Beast”, and it works better than you would expect. He has some of his best scenes in the film, notably his wild first meeting with Cher. Superb! And so is the film, a romantic and original feature that’s simply enchanting.