- Cher as Loretta Castorini
- Nicolas Cage as Ronny Cammareri
- Olympia Dukakis as Rose Castorini
- Vincent Gardenia as Cosmo Castorini
- Danny Aiello as Johnny Cammareri
As bright and luminous as the moon that hangs over Brooklyn, Moonstruck is a delightfully funny and gentle tale directed with subtle touches by Norman Jewison and brought to life by its large cast fronted by an Oscar-winning Cher. Although I’m not a huge fan of romantic comedies and the film is unabashedly romantic, Moonstruck charmed and pleasantly surprised me none the less because of its attention to characters and a certain amount of seriousness and drama to level out the comedy.
Loretta Castorini is a 38-year-old dowdy Italian American widow who works as an accountant whilst living at home with her eccentric relatives. Her boyfriend of the moment, the dull Johnny proposes to her one night, and although she is not madly in love with him, she accepts his offer as she believes it is time to marry again. Johnny however has to go back to Sicily to tend to his dying mother and asks Loretta to invite his estranged brother, Ronny. Sure enough, Loretta contacts the volatile and very angry Ronny who holds his older brother responsible for an accident years before. The pair unexpectedly fall madly in love with each other whilst Johnny is away.
The moon referred to in the title is a symbol of the complexities and finicky nature of love. Whilst Loretta and Ronny fall for each other and face uncertainty of what to do , her wry mother Rose finds out her husband Cosmo is cheating on her. This proves interesting as we watch not one but two relationships unravel in parallel fashion.
The cast is a bonus to the film, especially the supporting players who add humour and nuance to the romance. Cher is outstanding in the main role for which she won an Oscar, playing Loretta with an ease, confidence and subtlety that makes the audience feel for her. Her performance isn’t a loud, over the top portrayal, but a quietly realistic, charming and at times touching one that is all the better for it. Her scene at the opera when she cries is a touching moment especially when Ronny takes her hand and she realises how much she does love him. We all know that Cher can rock looking glamorous, but her morphing from dowdy duckling to glamour girl in pure Cinderella fashion is charming none the less to witness in the film. Cage is also funny too, embodying the wolfish charm and dejected melancholy that pervade his characters actions. Just like the many instances of opera that appear in the picture, his character is the living persona of the classic operatic hero with his over the top gestures and bold speeches about the subject of love. Credit should be given to Dukakis, as she is by turns funny and knowing as Loretta’s mother, her many instances of questions of why men chase women prove interesting viewing as well. Her chemistry with Vincent Gardenia( who is himself marvellous as her philandering husband) and Cher is an added bonus too. In a supporting part, Danny Aiello makes the most of it as the man who proposes to Loretta but is then spirited away, leaving the door open for all sorts of mayhem to occur.
While the film can be over the top at certain times and lull slightly, this should not detract from the hysterical screenplay and fleshed out characters present. Even if you don’t like romantic comedies, it is hard not to fall under the luminous spell of Moonstruck. You just won’t be able to “Snap out of it” as Loretta tells Ronny in a memorable scene.