Moonstruck [1987]

Moonstruck is a film centred on Loretta (played by Cher) – a widowed woman who believes she has been cursed with bad luck when it comes to relationships and love. She’s found Johnny (Danny Aiello). He’s a nice man, who is sensible – someone she admits she does not love but likes a great deal, so when he proposes to her in the opening scene, it makes sense why says yes.

There’s just one catch before they can have the big wedding Loretta wasn’t privy to first time around… Johnny desperately wants his estranged younger brother, Ronny present on the day of his marriage.

Suddenly, Johnny’s mother has taken ill in Italy so he must fly home to be with her as she dies. He leaves Loretta with the mission of phoning-come-tracking-down Ronny and ensuring his attendance at their wedding.

There had been bad blood between the boys since an incident five years ago. Johnny didn’t tell Loretta what it was, just that something had happened.

Ronny (Nicolas Cage) works in a bakery. And shortly after Loretta arrives, she uncovers the truth of the incident. Ronny has a wooden prosethetic hand. He blames Johnny for distracting him at a pinnacle moment around machinary, causing not only, the loss of his hand but ultimately the loss of his fiance, who left after the incident.

Ronny adamently states he doesn’t want any part in Johnny’s life or his wedding.

Loretta offers to make Ronny dinner at his apartment so they can discuss things further but during the meal, he infuriates her to the point where she calls him a wolf and suggests he deliberately cut his own hand off because he wanted out of the entrapment that is a relationship.

He flips the table in a ultra-dramatic fashion, then, runs his non-wooden fingers through his hair,in an ultra-cool fashion. It’s an awkward moment when she’s just sitting in her chair, watching him, agast but even more awkward when he pulls her toward him and lands a passionate smooch on her lips. She reciprocates the kiss, pulling away for a moment before allowing him to carry her, (bridal-style – ha!), to the bedroom where it’s implied they definitely get it on.

Movies made in this era really got away with some shit.

The next morning, Loretta is full of guilt while Ronny has no regrets. He feels reborn with Loretta, finally complete. Though frantic and ashamed she also finds him appealing but asks him to promise they will never see each other again. Ronny agrees to this – so long as he can have just one night at the opera with her. She concedes.

The theme of adultery or cheating has already been well established, with us seeing Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia), Loretta’s father, out at dinner with another woman right at the start of the movie, and again, later, when Loretta is at church to confess her adultery with Ronny, she runs into her mother, Rose (Olympia Dukakis) who says she is concerned Cosmo is cheating. Loretta tells her she’s being silly and to put the thought out of her mind.

The day of the opera, Loretta gets her hair dyed and styled at a salon. She arrives at the MET looking goregous, where Ronny is anxiously waiting to see if she will show. When she hands him her coat to check in, his eyes linger on her and he says, “Wow. Thank you.”

Fun Fact: At the time of filming, Cher was 41 and Cage a wee 23-year-old.

Loretta, who previously claimed to “not get” the opera is deeply moved by the performance. There’s a beautiful shot of Cher turning to look at Cage with tears rolling down her beautifully painted face, showing him now she understands.

Upon their exit from the auditorium, Loretta witnesses her father with a woman and realises her mother had been right to suspect him of cheating. She lashes out with obvious judgement but when he notices her date isn’t her finace, they agree to say they didn’t see each other there with comical dialogue.

Though Loretta resists, her and Ronny return to his house where they spend the night together, once again.

Upon her return to her parent’s home the following morning, she is distressed to learn Johnny is back from Italy and will be arriving to see her momentarily.

When the doorbell rings, she is shocked to find Ronny has arrived “to meet the family”. Despite her protests, her mother invites Ronny in for breakfast and he graciously accepts.

Get ready. Because the whackiest really is yet to come.

Other characters we’ve met but aren’t integral to the story – Loretta’s aunt and uncle also turn up at this point. Cosmo’s father also makes his way downstairs until there’s a full kitchen. Loretta is beside herself while Ronny politely introduces himself to members of her family – her mother letting them know he is brother of Johnny, her intended.

In front of many family members, Loretta’s mother, Rose asks Cosmo to stop seeing “her” – the woman he has been cheating with. For a strange moment, we can be forgiven for thinking he’s going to storm out but he just stands, thumps the table, simply sits back down and says, “Okay.”

Johnny finally makes his appearance where he explains to Loretta that his mother is no longer dying and he can’t marry her. Loretta villifies Johnny for this, saying, “You can’t make a promise if you’re not gonna keep it!”

He asks for the ring back, which Ronny promptly asks to borrow and immediately uses to propose to Loretta with.

She accepts and the family celebrate. Cosmo’s father even brings Johnny a glass of champagne and tells him to come join in as, afterall, he is part of the family now.

10/10 strange. 7/10 wholesome.

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