Serious Moonlight Cheryl Hines

Serious Moonlight Cheryl Hines
In the "Making of" supplement included with the DVD of Serious Moonlight, producer Andy Ostroy discusses the process and decision to make his late wife's (Adrienne Shelly) script into a film. It seems she left behind a drawer full of screenplays, which isn't a surprise, given the near-decade gap between I'll Take You There and Waitress. But the thing about Shelly's writing style is that it's a very specific balance of quotidian miseries and passive absurdist observations, making her the ultimate director for her material, given how distinct the vision. This is very likely why this release, wherein Louise (Meg Ryan) ties her husband Ian (Timothy Hutton) to a toilet after learning that he is leaving her for Sara (Kristen Bell), a younger Psychology student, is lumbering and awkward, at best. Cheryl Hines, who took the feature film-directing chair for the first time with this title, is an extremely funny woman, but she has much to learn about making a film work. She's fully aware of this, as noted in the commentary track, the "Making of" and the HDNET special included with the DVD, but it's an issue nonetheless. Since the movie takes place almost entirely in a bedroom and a bathroom, some stylization or visual trajectory is necessary to give perspective or tone to the endless verbal battles between the unhappily married couple. Unfortunately, it's handled with a point-and-shoot television sensibility that leaves the talking head shtick tired from the get go. Even a later sequence, wherein a robber conveniently interrupts this tête-à-tête, doesn't add the intended tension or layer of peculiarity, instead coming off as contrived white noise. It's unfortunate, as Ryan does her best with a manic and coyly manipulative character, and Bell clearly has fun with the two-faced tart she portrays (she is second only to Janeane Garofalo in delivering hilariously sarcastic and patronizing one-liners). In the end, Serious Moonlight is little more than a curious failure. (Alliance)