Moonlight and Valentino

Moonlight and Valentino

Original poster
Directed by David Anspaugh
Produced by Tim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Alison Owen
Written by Ellen Simon
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Julio Macat
Edited by David Rosenbloom
Distributed by Gramercy Pictures
Release dates
  • September 29, 1995 (1995-09-29)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2,484,226[1]

Moonlight and Valentino is a 1995 comedy-drama film directed by David Anspaugh. The screenplay by Ellen Simon is based on her semi-autobiographical play of the same title.


Rebecca Lott is a thirtysomething poetry teacher who is widowed when her husband is killed while jogging. Helping her cope with her grief is a support system consisting of her sister Lucy Trager, a chain-smoker still trying to deal with their mother's death from cancer fourteen years earlier; her best friend Sylvie Morrow, who is trapped in an unhappy marriage to Paul; and her former stepmother Alberta Russell, a high-powered Wall Street executive so caught up in the financial world she has difficulty relating to anyone not involved with it. Romance finds its way back into Rebecca's life when a flirtatious handsome younger man hired to paint the house takes an interest in her, and his presence affects the other women as well.


Critical reception

The film earned mostly negative reviews from critics and currently holds a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In his review in The New York Times, Stephen Holden called the film "a genteel, buttoned-up soap opera" and added it "wants to be a grand, pull-out-the-stops tearjerker like Terms of Endearment or Beaches. But its situations are so awkwardly contrived that you can almost hear the machinery creaking.[2]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described the film as "very sincere, very heartfelt and very bad . . . Watching it, I felt trapped in an advice column from one of the women's magazines. I have no doubt many of the heartfelt statements in the film are true (actually, I have many doubts - but never mind). What bothered me was that the story never found a way to make them dramatic, or illustrate them with incidents. The movie is slow, plotless and relentless - one of those deals where you find yourself tapping your watch, to be sure it hasn't stopped."[3]

In Variety, Emanuel Levy called it "sharply observed, if a tad too earnest" and added, "Though screenplay betrays its theatrical origins, Simon resists the temptation to construct the women as broad types . . . [and] to emulate her famous father (Neil Simon) in his younger years, eschewing one-liners in favor of humor that stems directly from the intensely dramatic interactions. But tale's psychological bent drives Simon periodically to resort to an overly clinical, cathartic treatment, with artificially induced conflicts and resolutions . . . Nonetheless, all shortcomings are more than compensated for by the stunning quartet of thesps . . . These four actresses ignite the screen with so much power and charisma that one yearns for more ensemble scenes."[4]

Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle described it as "fitful, tritely amusing" and "filled with little but empty gestures, contrivance and jokes that fizzle." He added, "Still, the movie, for all its imploding moments and artificial dialogue, is surprisingly well-acted, its characters given a chance by director David Anspaugh to be vital, almost as if the actors went to extraordinary pains to overcome the lame script."[5]

In The Washington Post, Desson Howe said the film "skitters somewhere between mildly diverting and lukewarm . . . a feel-good, comically mediocre also-ran . . . the kind of movie in which everyone takes a turn being terminally adorable."[6]


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