Stars: Diane Lane, Viggo Mortenson, Liev Schreiber, Anna Paquin
It’s 1969 and a young housewife (Pearl, played by Diane Lane) and her family (husband Marty, son Daniel, daughter Alison and Marty’s mother Lillian played by Tovah Feldshuh) head off to New York’s Catskills mountains for another summer vacation, the kind that extends from July 4th through Labor Day. They rent a bungalow at a resort where the same people visit year after year and everybody knows the ins and outs of everybody else’s business.
Marty (Liev Schreiber) drops them all off because he has to head back to the city to his job as television repairman because he can’t get the time off. He only makes it up there on weekends.
That gives Pearl time for wandering eyes and she becomes enamored with a traveling blouse salesman, the vigorous “Walker Jerome” with the backward name played by virulent Viggo Mortenson. Walker sells blouses and other trinkets to the women at the resorts off the back of his bus. He’s very generous with his wares and makes the ladies feel beautiful. But he does something else for Pearl; he makes her feel as if she’s missed a very important part of her young life – freedom. She’s saddled with 14 year old Alison (Anna Paquin), young son Daniel and a husband who’s loving but ordinary and somewhat boring.
She hesitatingly moves toward an affair with Walker at the same time her blossoming daughter attracts her first boyfriend. And we see the parallel of an exciting time in a young girl’s life when love is discovered and she is free to make choices, even some that might be dangerous ones. Pearl takes the dangerous road toward the destruction of her family as she becomes deeper involved with Walker. But, it’s never a decision she makes lightly. She is gently pushed into it by the continued absence of her husband, a situation that Lillian sees very clearly and tries to circumvent.
This is also the year of Woodstock, the ultimate freedom ride and on that weekend, when Marty can’t make it up there because of the crowds on the road, Pearl and Walker join the lovefest and enjoy a level of abandonment that Pearl has never had before. Soon she is faced with an agonizing decision.
The story starts off as a pleasant summer jaunt then becomes increasingly serious amid the backdrop of summer fun and festivity at the resort. You’ll take pleasure in recognizing the heavy New York tones of Julie Kavner over the P.A. system with her flip announcements that the “Knish man is now on the premises.”
I liked this film a lot; it was well directed by Tony Goldwyn who you might remember as the antagonist in “Ghost”. It amply explores responsibility versus the desire to be someone else and how sometimes all it takes is an open mind to change – even slightly.
Lotta says: “A Walk on the Moon” is refreshing and well acted.