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SHOOT THE MOON (director: Alan Parker; screenwriter: Bo Goldman; cinematographer: Michael Seresin; editor: Gerry Hambling; cast: Albert Finney (George Dunlap), Diane Keaton (Faith Dunlap), Karen Allen (Sandy), Peter Weller (Frank Henderson), Dana Hill (Sherry Dunlap), Viveka Davis (Jill Dunlap), Tracey Gold (Marianne Dunlap), Tina Yothers (Molly Dunlap), George Murdock (French DeVoe), Irving Metzman (Howard Katz), Leora Dana (Charlotte DeVoe); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Alan Marshall; Warner Home Video; 1982)
“Adds nothing much to the genre of family dramas.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alan Parker (“Bugsy Malone”/”Fame”/”Mississippi Burning“) directs this highly-charged bleak drama of a marriage breakup between an affluent couple. It’s best realized as an actor’s pic, with Albert Finney walking away with the acting honors and Diane Keating giving a richly enervating nuanced performance. It’s written in a superficially sophisticated way by Bo Goldman, and adds nothing much to the genre of family dramas but a lot of noise. By the end we witness a lot of messy fighting, but never learn what makes the main characters act in such a hostile manner.

The Dunlaps have been married for fifteen years, but their marriage is rocky and they now sleep in separate rooms. George (Albert Finney) is an ambitious successful writer. His resilient earth-mother suburban wife Faith (Diane Keaton) is a housewife.The couple have four daughters (the oldest is the 13-year-old Sherry) and live together in a converted farmhouse in Marin County, California. An unhappy George begins an affair with Sandy (Karen Allen), a divorcee with a small son of her own. Faith follows the lead of hubby and begins an affair with the young contractor, Frank Henderson (Peter Weller), building the family tennis court. George has a problem with his wife’s affair, but sees no problem with his extra-curricular activity. His irrational behavior and violent outbursts disturb his daughters.

The film’s key scene is its opening one, where the couple know the marriage is over but can’t end it in an amicable way. George is getting ready for an International Book Awards dinner in San Francisco, in which his wife accompanies him. At the awards banquet, George all but ignores his wife. Things explode in the ride home. In the morning, the adulterer is thrown out of the house with the bags wifey has already packed. The rest of the film weighs the affects of the splitup on both George and Faith, and the collateral damage it causes for the children. The two new partners, Sandy and Frank, must also weigh in on how the split affects them.

We learn little about the characters inner motivations; we do not even learn what kind of books George Dunlap writes (Does he write fiction or non-fiction?).The astute observations unmasked over this raging mess are too few to justify having to endure such shrill entertainment.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”