Although often thought of in terms of an oldie or a romantic comedy, Norman Jewison’s classic tale of a Sicilian-American widow (Cher) caught up in the expectations of her family and her unrequited love for her finance’s younger brother (Nicolas Cage) remains one of the most enduring and endearing stories of the past 30 years.
Much of the mojo of this spellbinding story comes from the actors themselves. Cher had been looking for a vehicle to re-establish her credentials as an authentic actress and certainly John Patrick Shanley’s superb script gets the ball rolling. For Nicolas Cage, the role of Ronnie proves to a career-maker. His line early in the movie is as memorable as it is unsettling: “Chrissy! Over by the wall! Bring me the big knife! I’m gonna cut my throat!” (Presumeably because he is so in love with Loretta (Cher). Then there is the befuddled Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello) who is so in love with Loretta that he can’t see straight.
The plot, such as it is, gets quite convoluted as the various players scheme to find and fasten themselves onto true love. Loretta gets quite conflicted when she sees her father on the street with another woman. Later in the narrative, Loretta’s mother asks Johnny why men chase women. He responds by telling her that it may be because they fear death, and Rose (Loretta’s mother) realizes that he is right!
There is this constant and almost comic strain of back and forth, up and down, fantasy-and-reality stream of consciousness running throughout the entire story. It almost reminds the ear (or the eye!) of A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream, where it is all but impossible to discern fact from fantasy.
In Moonstruck, we are touched by an enduring sense of possibility. As if everything we had ever experienced had been a prelude to our rendezvous with destiny.