Diane Keaton, Shoot the Moon

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pauline Kael

“…. The characters in Shoot the Moon … aren't taken from the movies, or from books, either. They're torn--bleeding--from inside Bo Goldman and Alan Parker and the two stars, Diane Keaton and Albert Finney, and others in the cast….

“Diane Keaton may be a star without vanity: she's so completely challenged by the role of Faith that all she cares about is getting the character right. Faith's eyes are squinched and you can see the crow's-feet; at times her face is bloated from depression, and she has the crumbling-plaster look of an old woman. Keaton is tall but not big, yet she gives you a feeling of size--of being planted and rooted, while George is buffeted about. He doesn't know how he was cast loose or what he's doing at sea. He has done it to himself and he can't figure out why. Throughout the movie, he's looking for a dock--he's reaching out to his wife. But Faith is unyeilding; she doesn't want more pain. Very few young American movie actresses have the strength and the instinct for the toughest dramatic roles--intelligent, sophisticated heroines. Jane Fonda did, around the time that she appeared in Klute and They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, but that was more than ten years ago. There hasn't been anybody else until now. Diane Keaton acts on a different plane from that of her previous film roles; she brings the character a full measure of dread and awareness, and does it in a special, intuitive way that's right for screen acting. Nothing looks rehearsed, yet it's all fully created. She has a scene alone in the house in the early days of the separation--soaking in a tub, smoking a joint and singing faintly (a Beatles song--"If I Fell"), getting out to answer the phone, and then just standing listlessly, wiping off her smudged eyeliner. It's worthy of a Jean Rhys heroine; her eyes are infinitely sad--she's cracking, and you can sense the cold, windy rmenants of passion that are cracking her. But this scene is a lull between wars….

“This film may recall Irvin Kershner's 1970 Loving--a story of separating that had a high level of manic pain. But the wife in that (played with great delicacy by Eva Marie Saint) wasn't the powerhouse that Faith is. Faith doesn't back down when she and George fight, and her angry silence is much stronger than George's desperate chatter--Faith has no guilt. Shoot the Moon may also call up memories of Long Day's Jouney Into Night … But in that, too, the husband held the power….

“…. [Parker's collaborators] must have helped free him to devote his full attention to the cast. He directs the actors superbly. Diane Keaton and Albert Finney give the kind of performances that in the theatre become legendary, and, in its smaller dimensions, Dana Hill's Sherry is perhaps equally fine….”

Pauline Kael
New Yorker, January 18, 1982
Taking It All In, 290-95

Stanley Kauffmann

“…. And [Parker] has either encouraged or permitted Diane Keaton to return to her Woody-Allen-film performance.

“I'm not sure "return" is correct: I'm assuming that his film was made after Reds. In Beatty's film, which I've recently seen again, Keaton rises to a role that is, roughly speaking, in the classic tradition: it's played outward, it's expressed, not implied; it has an almost visible outline that she has to step into and sustain, and she does it excellently, growing as she goes. In Shoot the Moon, she is once again in a largely internalized role, with lots of silences, and instead of approaching this woman with equivalent, though different, seriousness, Keaton falls back on her old crazy-mixed-up-kid routine: the broken sentences, the broken gestures, the sudden and suddenly withdrawn little smiles, the whole teensy-weensy cabaret act. Possibly as part of her act, as part of the image she wants to create of the unaffected, nerve-center young woman, she wears shapeless blouses and baggy pants most of the time, announcing ostentatiously, "The hell with this movie star crap." It seems affected that Keaton never once in this film wears a pair of jeans that fits her.

“Is Keaton going to sentence herself to an image as restricted as, say, Woody Allen's? Reds showed that she can do much, much more, that she could have played this quite different role with less phony throwaway mimetics, more imagination. (Another nuisance. Her husband's name is George. Throughout she calls him "Chorch.") I hope that Keaton will get and take opportunities to expand. Otherwise, before long, when we see her name, we'll know what we're going to see just the way you can taste the food in certain restaurants when you see the menu.”

Stanley Kauffmann
New Republic, February 3, 1982

Compare Kauffmann and Kael on Keaton in Reds just a month earlier.

David Denby

“Unlike the self-improving seventies couple in Kramer vs. Kramer, the husband and wife in Shoot the Moon are thoroughly defined by their situation: they could no more pick themselves up and change into new people than a transplanted oak could begin to sprout birch leaves. Their problems are fought out, not "worked out" in the modern way. . . . Having reached her middle thirties, Faith Dunlap (Diane Keaton) is developing a few lines about her eyes and mouth, and her skin looks a little raw. A beautiful California woman, she's slightly frayed around the edges and perhaps a mite stupefied from housework….

“In Reds, Diane Keaton spent a good deal of time uneasily searching for a coherent character to play, but she's perfectly relaxed and self-assured here. Her Faith has married young and relied too much on her husband. His leaving her is a real betrayal, and it knocks her flat. Physically exhausted, Keaton sprawls in bed as the kids play around her, and, in a classic bit, haltingly sings the Beatles' "If I Fell" while lying in the tub, her voice cracking, tears falling. Keaton has always found it easy enough to bring out the anger that lies beneath the soft hesitancy of her surface manner, but she's never dug down and found this much pain before. And she's touchingly awkward when Faith, getting back at George, begins an affair with the swash-buckling young worker (Peter Weller) who shows up to build her tennis court….

“The movie is a beautiful achievement, and yet, at a recent preview, a fair number of women hissed at the end. My guess is that . . . [LO for context?] they're appalled at the mere possibility that Diane Keaton might take [Albert Finney's character] back. But Faith Dunlap is not the kind of woman who sails cleanly out of a bad marriage into the high seas of career and independence. In any case, it's an awful mistake to ask works of art to corroborate our own lives or to show us what we want to see. By staying close to the truth of two particular characters, Shoot the Moon, in its own way, keeps the faith.”

David Denby
New York, January 25, 1982

David Ansen

“…. Shoot the Moon can also boast of excellent performances and Parker's most controlled direction to date. Yet these many virtues don't add up to a completely satisfying film….”

“Parker and Goldman's triumph is their portrait of Faith and the superbly choreographed scenes with the children, a study in benignly controlled chaos. We're not used to seeing Keaton as a mother, yet she inhabits her role so completely, with a warm, slightly frayed maternal spontaneity, that you'd think she'd spent all her life around children. Faith is obviously a great mom precisely because she takes her figrs for granted--and so does the movie. The feminist quotation marks hovering over most performances of a Jill Clayburgh or Jane Fonda are mercifully absent: Faith is refreshingly unrepresentative, totally specific. As the oldest and most vulnerable of her daughters, Dana Hill gives an equally honest performance … The awkward and tender seduction scene between Weller and Keaton is a great moment--topped only by the haunting sight of Keaton, alone in her bathtub smoking a joint, haltingly singing an old Beatles song that represents all that was good about her marriage.”

“It's in Finney's character that the real conflict of the movie resides … Finney gives a superb, implosive performance, but it's his side of the story that gets shortchanged….”

David Ansen
Newsweek, January 25, 1982

Stephen Schiff

“…. [Finney's] is a towering performance… Finney has a supernal, otherwordly power and presence. But it's Keaton who keeps the movie balanced and down-to-earth. If Finney gives it fire, she gives it humanity. I think her performance here is the finest work she has ever done; it's warm, angry, humorous, and brave enough to make Faith seem a vast, classical role--anyone, man or woman, can see himself in her. At 36, Keaton is not afraid to look old and roughed up. She lets us see the wrinkles on her upper lip and the sad bleariness that creeps into her eyes, and she can bring a depth of feeling into her face that the whole world might drown in. She can also be funny and radiant, and there is something very special in her scenes with the kids; she's maternal in a way that goes beyond acting. In the sequence in which she invites Frank over for dinner, knowing that he may become her lover, Keaton ranges from the charming giddiness we associate with her Woody Allen films to a new, almost shocking vulnerability. The writing in the sequence is very beautiful, and Parker seats Faith and Frank across from each other, setting the camera way back, so that we can feel the aching space between them. Even in long shot, however, Keaton pulls us inside her, letting us know what it is to be a woman who hasn't let herself feel sexual for years. Later, there is a scene in a bathtub, when Faith sings "If I Fell," letting the lyrics hurt, that will undoubtedly become famous. And just afterward, Faith talks on the phone with her mother, and Keaton's acting is just as perfect, if a bit less showy. This is a great, heroic performance. It bumps up against the kingdom of Garbo and Katharine Hepburn--the limits of what an actor can do on the screen.”

Stephen Schiff
Boston Phoenix
good, no date

Molly Haskell

“Faith is presented as one of those women who "takes to" childbearing naturally, a haus-frau by vocation. What then--now that the children are at school--does she do all day? Keaton, schlepping around, in radiant harmony with herself, goes a long way toward making Faith believable, but I question whether there is any woman in this day and age who hasn't had to defend her life choice, if only to herself, against opposing claims. I think Faith is a chimera, a fantasy of strength and invulnerability on the part of a frightened (or self-exonerating?) male.”

Molly Haskell
Playgirl, May 1982
[LO little]

Andrew Sarris

“…. I loathe [Midnight Cowboy and Fame, two Parker-Marshall productions] as thoroughly as any movies I have seen in decades. Shoot the Moon is a step up, as far as I am concerned, only inasmuch as the subject is less obnoxious, and Diane Keaton is around to supply some of her own mystique.

“…. [Shoot the Moon] does not illuminate the life that George and Faith lived for 15 years, the life that made them go their separate ways. Nor does it dramatize what they are going to do now. What Shoot the Moon does instead is wallow self-indulgently in the trivia of daily life in between outburts of psychic and physical violence that are endowed with just a touch of self-congratulatory Laingian smugness over the sheer authenticity of the feelings released amid all the mayherm. About the only compensation I can think of is in the spectacle of Diane Keaton singing a Beatles song with all its unattainable yearnings for fidelity. She sings herself into a visible heartbreak, but there is really no context for her intimation of loss. From first to last, Albert Finney's George acts in the manner of a dully unmotivated bully who smashes things and people so that he can whimper afterward that he didn't really mean it…. Not that any of the characters in Shoot the Moon show the slightest insight into … anything … that is interesting. Even the game of hearts, from which the movie derives its title, is seen merely as a cuddly family metaphor….”

Andrew Sarris
Village Voice, January 20-28, 1982
[don't have whole review]

David Thomson

She was touching in Shoot the Moon . . . . [paraphrase]

David Thomson
A Biographical Dictionary of Film
Third Edition, 1994