Love…such a complex beast. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, it once again eludes your net, slipping through your fingers. At certain times in our lives we may find ourselves with very little, while at other times we feel we have too much. Regardless of what our current love quota may be, when love is in our lives it always makes its presence known.
The joys and mysteries of love are themes which have been much explored by a vast plethora films with varying degrees of success. However, every once in a while a film comes along which offers us something unique, something special which stands it apart from those which apply a tired old formula. Director Norman Jewison has created one such magical experience for us with his 1987 movie, ‘Moonstruck’.
Love is painful, challenging, confusing, mysterious, passionate, necessary and unavoidable. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t have it any other way. While this is a romantic movie, it’s not romantic in a ‘boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love, and live happily ever after’ kind of way. It’s romantic in the sense that the emotion and meaning of love are explored in a real way. Like Emma Thompson’s character in ‘Love Actually’ who was taught how to feel by Joni Mitchell’s music, this movie will teach you what love is, and how love can both grow and evolve.
‘I can’t believe you still listen to Joni Mitchell.’
‘I love her. And true love lasts a lifetime. Joni Mitchell taught your cold English wife how to feel.’
Loretta (Cher) is a widow who, after losing her husband in unfortunate circumstances, has given up on love. She is simply looking for a companion who will treat her the way she expects to be treated. Enter Johnny Cammareri. After a traditional courtship she agrees to marry him because he is a good man who she can settle down with and enjoy a comfortable life. She knows where she stands in the relationship and is in control of both herself and her emotions.
‘Do you love him, Loretta?’
‘When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can.’
With his mother sick and thought to be just days from death in Italy, Johnny rushes off to be at her bedside. As the wedding plans progress, Johnny charges Loretta with the unenviable task of trying to convince his estranged brother (who she has never met) to attend the wedding. What should have been a simple request, of course turns out to be so much more.
Johnny’s brother ‘Ronny’ (Nicholas Cage) is fiery, passionate and angry. You’d probably be angry too if you only had the one good hand to rely on. He unashamedly brandishes his emotions and in this sense he is his brother’s complete opposite. Ronny is all rawness and heat, and rather than leave well enough alone, Loretta can’t help herself, she is drawn to the fire.
‘I’m no friggin’ monument to justice! I lost my hand! I lost my bride! Johnny has his hand! Johnny has his bride! You want me to take my heartache, put it away and forget?’
Being somewhat of a stickler for control and order, Loretta believes she needs to mend this bad blood between the two brothers. While she fights a good battle, before she realises it Loretta’s need for order and control melts away, and quite unexpectedly she finds herself in that crazy place called ‘love’.
‘Do you love him Loretta?’
‘Ma, I love him awful.’
‘Aw god, that’s too bad.’
But hey, who amongst us would have the power to resist? You throw in one part Nicholas Cage, one part romantic operatic date, one part heartfelt impassioned speech, one part falling snow, one part passion and about 5 parts moonbeam, and there you have it, the recipe for love is complete.
‘I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice – it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.’
Sure some of the hairstyles and fashion may have dated, but this movie has classic written all over it. Old loves are rebuilt, current loves are revisited, long lasting loves are reminisced over, and of course new loves are forged. What is the one common factor binding them all together?
‘La bella luna! The moon brings the woman to the man. Capice?’
…why the moon of course.