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Moonlight and Valentino (1995, Kathleen Turner, Whoopi Goldberg)

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With Moonlight and Valentino Ellen Simon (daughter of playwright Neil Simon) used her writing skills to turn a personal tragedy into a cathartic experience when she penned this movie, based on what happened to her after her husband was killed in a car accident. In this moving yet entertaining comedy-drama, a recently widowed woman (Elizabeth Perkins) turns to the women closest to her for support after the shocking loss of her husband. ‘I will take great comfort in having told this story,’ Simon says, ‘if just one audience member – man, woman or child – hears but one word that strikes a familiar chord, that has an effect that frees them in some respect and allows them to begin approaching life without fear.’

After her world has been turned upside down by the death of husband Ben, the friends and family of Rebecca Lott (Perkins) rally round her, even though they’ve all got their own problems. Best friend Sylvie (Whoopi Goldberg) feels that her marriage is dead; younger sister Lucy (Gwyneth Paltrow) has never had a relationship because of her low self esteem; and stepmother Alberta (Kathleen Turner) has problems dealing with her ‘acquired’ siblings. A little testosterone is added to this heady oestrogen brew when a good-looking decorator (Jon Bon Jovi) arrives, with dog Valentino, and causes a stir in the household. Rebecca has to deal with her feelings of guilt over Ben’s death and a desire to move on.

Sight and Sound called Moonlight and Valentino ‘a movie of sparkling wit and psychological acumen,’ adding, ‘Character-driven writing and A-list performances are the film’s main pleasures.’ The Times also praised the actors, noting ‘Elizabeth Perkins deftly manoeuvres through the widow’s conflicts. Gwyneth Paltrow, a fast-rising talent, shows her strengths as the younger sister stymied by low self-esteem; and Kathleen Turner is splendidly spiky in a role partly modelled on Ellen Simon’s own stepmother, Marsha Mason. Even Whoopi Goldberg is bearable as the eccentric best buddy.’

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production details
USA | 100 minutes | 1995

Director: David Anspaugh
Writer: Ellen Simon

cast
Whoopi Goldberg as Sylvie Morrow
Erica Luttrell as Drew Morrow
Kathleen Turner as Alberta Trager
Elizabeth Perkins as Rebecca Trager Lott
Gwyneth Paltrow as Lucy Trager
Jon Bon Jovi
Shadia Simmons as Jenny Morrow

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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