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A Walk On The Moon

By Spectator, 2017-04-24

In 1999 the talented Diane Lane portrayed Pearl Kantrowitz, a lovely mother of two. She and her kids are spending the summer in upstate New York at an all-Jewish vacation camp. Her TV repairman husband, Marty (Live Schreiber), will join them on weekends. Feeling trapped and unfulfilled  32-year old Pearl, who had to get married at 17, recklessly begins a steamy affair with Walker Jerome (Viggo Morensen) known as "The Blouse Man," a charismatic, flirty traveling salesman who makes stops at the camp. 

Pearl is a good wife and mother.and Diane Lane builds the performance from a foundation of love for the family. There is nothing wrong with her life, but it's absent vitality - she feels anonymous, worn out by the rut she is in. Seeing her 14-year old daughter Alison (Anna Paquin) on the brink of womanhood, Pearl is especially sensitive to the passage of time. Lane plays Pearl with a surging ache to feel something new and be someone new. It's not too late and, as she is a beautiful woman, adventure can come her way easily. 

When she meets Walker selling his wares from his bus, Pearl is flustered by his attractiveness (and longish blond hair).Trying not to be obvious about his having caught her eye, she is charmingly self-conscious and uncomfortable making small talk with him. He gives her a tie-dyed shirt (this is 1969) and there is a memorable moment, when he bites the tag off it, right at her shoulder. Caught off guard, this intimacy takes her breath away. And with nice-guy Marty away so much of the time, she's vulnerable to Walker's magnetism. Lane's performance in these scenes is mesmerizing. There's a fierce honesty in her acting. She is erotically awakened..She glows. The excellent movie is A Walk on the Moon and it sets up the conflict with refreshing complexity. Pearl isn't a bad woman nor is she is a victim. Marty isn't a villain and Walker is not a cad. 

Three years later, in the 2002 Unfaithful, Diane Lane portrayed Connie Sumner who is also a good wife and mother. She is married to rock-solid but not too exciting Ed (Richard Gere) who probably used to be sexy but now is simply "Dad." Connie, by chance, meets a handsome young man in SoHo and gets infected by the lust bug. The young man, played by Olivier Martinez, is almost a parody of every husband's worst nightmare. He's young and French and lives in a loft surrounded by books. And he has all the confidence that comes with being ridiculously handsome. To Connie, suddenly reawakened to passion in the twilight of her young womanhood passing up an affair with this "hunk" would be like agreeing to be buried 40 years too early. The chemistry between Lane and Martinez is electric.

    There is a remarkable sequence on a train in which Connie rides home after her first afternoon in bed with the young lover.Her emotional state is one anybody could recognize, though it's hard to put a name to it - - suppressed exultation? Pained hysteria?  Connie is trembling and we can feel it. Lane telegraphs every emotion - - shock, exhilaration, remorse, confusion, glorious anticipation, outrage, guilt, sadness - - on her face and body. This is acting at its very best and the very talented but under-valued Lane doesn't just show passion but somehow takes us inside it

Pearl and Connie provide two of the best portrayals I have seen. She was nominated for a Best Actress award for Unfaithful (Connie) but received no recognition for Walk on the Moon (Pearl).

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