Taking a provocative culture clash (hippies versus Catskills vacationers during 1969’s Woodstock summer) and turning it into a fairly conventional sexual-
awakening story, A Walk on the Moon gets a bit of a lift from the appealing choice (Viggo Mortensen or Liev Schreiber) faced by its protagonist. Diane Lane plays Pearl, a not-so-young married looking for a little liberation of her own— it’s another in the quiet-life-upturned- by-turbulent-times series. With her husband (Schreiber) repairing TVs in New York during the week and her two kids watched over by her mother-in-law (Tovah Feldshuh), Pearl has some spare time for a flirtation that soon evolves into sex under a waterfall. Mortensen— these days the actor most likely to seduce willing wives— plays the free spirit she can’t resist.
Actor Tony Goldwyn, making his directorial debut, lets his cast do the work for him, and they hold up well, with Schreiber nicely revealing the efforts that go into being a mensch. Lane is a bit more opaque, sympathetic in an underwritten role. Pamela Gray’s screenplay, chockablock with the requisite period details and rounded out with all the music you’d expect, turns slightly ridiculous when the parallel mother-daughter romances run smack into each other at Woodstock, but, hey, I guess those were wild times. (As the daughter, Anna Paquin is suitably petulant, with some distracting down under inflections.) The film’s title refers to that eventful summer’s lunar landing, and a curious question is unintentionally posed about the close connection between Pearl’s sex drive and outer-space events. Star power indeed.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 23, 1999