Tied up too tight
When a film boasts a rosta of solid talent on its cast list, it invites certain expectations. The disappointment of a bad film experience is felt even more keenly when it’s actors who have proven their worth in previous movies delivering the killer blows. And so it is with Curb Your Enthusiasm actress Cheryl Hines’s straight-to-DVD directorial debut Serious Moonlight, a romantic comedy/thriller hybrid that, despite having a quartet of fine thespians at its core, shows itself to be an odd confection which leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth.
Meg Ryan is no longer in the halcyon days of her career but can definitely do better than this off-kilter role of Louise, an overworked and harassed woman who decides to drive to her upstate holiday home and surprise her husband Ian (Timothy Hutton). When she arrives, she is delighted to find the place festooned with flowers – but her ardor soon cools when Ian tells her the floral display was, in fact, for his young mistress Sara (Kristin Bell), and that he is leaving for good. Determined to make him see the error of his ways, Louise knocks her husband unconscious and gaffa tapes him to the toilet, saying she won’t set him free until he remembers why he loves her. But when their house is targeted by a vicious young burglar Todd (Justin Long), Louise and Ian realise they may not make it through the night, let alone the rest of their lives…
The premise itself is promising, the concept of a wronged woman fighting for her marriage in such an extreme way had the potential for much dark humour; indeed the late screenwriter Adrienne Shelley was behind solid scripts like I’ll Take You There and Waitress. But on screen, the action plays out in a jerky, haphazard fashion; there’s not enough edge to make it work as a thriller, and there’s certainly not enough heart to make it shine as a drama with a difference. Indeed, the tone is wobbly from the start, and sequences in which Todd smacks the helpless Ian around, molests Louise and suggests rape might be on his itinerary just don’t fit with the light-hearted atmosphere Hines has created.
Part slapstick comedy and part revenge thriller, Serious Moonlight doesn’t know what it wants to be; even the talents of those assembled on screen aren’t enough to life this out of bargain bin territory. (1 star)
Stars Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell, Justin Long
Director Cheryl Hines
Released April 26