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80's Movie Review: "Moonstruck"

Updated: Apr 18, 2022


(Photo: IMDB)

Inspired by the Academy Awards that aired this past month, we flash back into past nominees and winners for these prestigious awards. Moonstruck, released in 1987, stars Hollywood legend Cher as Loretta with Nicolas Cage as Ronny and Oympia Dukakis as Loretta’s mother in a romantic comedy that is set in none other than Brooklyn, New York.

Moonstruck has won an array of awards including: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, along with three other nominations. This film was not only recognized as being great cinematically but is also seen as, “an exuberantly funny tribute to love and one of the decade's most appealing comedies,”by Rotten Tomatoes.

The film follows Loretta, who is engaged to her fiancé, Johnny, after losing her first husband to a bus accident. They begin planning the wedding when Johnny must abruptly take leave to Italy to support his dying mother. He then instructs Loretta to contact his younger brother, Ronny, who he hasn't spoken to in seven years, about attending the wedding. The brothers haven't spoken for so long due to an incident where Ronny lost his hand, which he believes made him lose his fiancé. Ronny solely blames Johnny for his misfortunes. However things quickly change after meeting Ronny, Loretta’s feelings for him are undeniable. This is when their affair begins.

While Loretta knows her feelings for Ronny are wrong, she is unable to combat her love for him. She even admits to him that she will marry Johnny because it is the “right thing to do” as Loretta desires to be a bride and Johnny was “right in front of her.” This insinuates her love for Johnny is merely platonic at best, and is the easiest option for her as a widowed woman.

This raises the question of whether it's easier to marry someone who you don't love so that you can have control or marry someone you love with a limited amount of control. This idea is seen in every relationship throughout the film.

There are two roads to marriage: either having it be platonic love with a binding contract of marriage between two people because it's what society expects of a woman, like Loretta who was in her late 30’s, or having it be shared between two people who truly love each other even if society is against it.

In one scene, Loretta and her mother, Rose, share a moment of truthfulness when Loretta admits that she doesn't love her Johnny. Her mother praises her for being honest because loving someone causes people to do stupid things, like lie about how they truly feel. Platonic love allows one to make rational decisions without the rose-colored glasses that appear once you fall in love.

The overpowering passion between Ronny and Loretta is electric. There is a love that she and Johnny never had, that from the beginning which she recognizes as trouble. During one of the most iconic scenes, she slaps Ronny across the face for confessing his love to her, and the line “snap out of it” is delivered.

While there is a deep love between Rose and Cosmo, Loretta’s parents, Rose is aware of her husband's infidelity but is so engrossed in her love for her husband that she begins blaming herself. Throughout the film she asks every man “why do men chase women.” Looking for an answer in hopes of possibly understanding why her husband is with another woman.

The aspect of the wife not being kept in the dark about her husband cheating is incredible. The writers don’t dumb her down or purely identify her as the housewife who’s unaware of her situation. Rose’s reaction or lack thereof to the cheating shows a realistic representation of love. She knows the unfortunate truth, but the love of her husband allows herself to forgive, but not forget.

Rose preaches not to marry someone you love because they can do horrific things, but that doesn't make you love them less. Love causes chaos and pain. It was said best by Ronny who proclaimed, “Love don’t make things nice, it ruins everything; it breaks your heart, it makes things a mess.”

This idea of love being messy is evident within all relationships. It brings a level of pain to peoples lives along with the inability to have control over one's emotions. There’s a depiction of human emotions that are inevitable no matter how hard one tries to deny themselves the love they desire. Yet this film shows that in the end love is worth the pain.

As mentioned, the complexity of the characters and their love lives are explored throughout the movie. No matter the issue, there is a way to come together in the end, even when life gets messy. Family cannot be chosen, and in a way loving another person romantically is not chosen either. No matter the circumstances, the commitment to togetherness provides a sense of relief for everyone involved.

In the end, Ronny proposes and Loretta accepts. Wen Johnny comes back from visiting his mother, he reveals that he couldn't marry Loretta anyway and her father agrees to stop seeing the other woman. The whole family toasts, which calls attention to the theme of togetherness. The ending leaves the audience feeling content as the family gathers around the table as one dysfunctional family.

Although this film revolves around the pain that love causes, it is truly hilarious. The dialogue between characters is laughable and allows for the film to talk about the subject of love without it being a tragedy, making it the perfect combination of romance and comedy.

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