This weekend, I watched A Walk on the Moon for what must be the fifth time. Not only do I think it has one of the sexiest scenes ever filmed; it’s a great lens on the culture shock felt by so many in the US in the late 1960’s. The acting is superb–the film showcases Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen and is a great vehicle for Anna Pacquin, Liev Schreiber, and Tovah Feldshuh. (Listen closely–the PA announcer is voiced by the incomparable Julie Kavner.)
The film was made in 1999 and directed by Tony Goldwyn. It gets so much right about the bewilderment many young middle and working class Americans felt when faced with the values of the Woodstock generation. Diane Lane plays Pearl, a young woman of around 30 who married at 17 and now, in the summer of 1969, has a sweet young son and a rebellious teenage daughter–Anna Pacquin in yet another stellar performance–, a husband she loves, and the sense there must be more be more to life than what she knows. She and her family are spending the summer, as they always do, in a Jewish family camp near Woodstock. Her husband, played with a stern mien by Liev Schreiber, fixes TVs in Brooklyn, and tries to make it up to the cabin on the weekends. Viggo Mortensen is the traveling blouse salesman who offers Pearl the chance to experience all she feels she’s missed.
It’s one of my favorite films and, each time I see it, I try and remember my world in the summer of 1969: A time when the world watched, on black and white TVs, a man walk on the moon; a music festival in New York drew a half a million people; President Nixon announced he was pulling US troops out of Vietnam. (I was born in 1961.) I am currently reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and have been thinking about the 60’s.If you’ve never seen it, consider watching A Walk on the Moon. It’s in some ways a female (as opposed to feminist or feminine) take on those turbulent times.