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copyright ©1999-2000

flick pick | Box of Moonlight 1996
Directed by: Tom DiCillo
Starring: John Turturro, Sam Rockwell, Catherine Keener
Language: English
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Plot synopsis Al Fountain is a by-the-book, uptight, middle-aged electrical engineer overseeing an out-of-town construction job somewhere in the rural American south. Just before Fourth of July, he receives an announcement that the project has been canned. Feeling inexplicably not-quite himself [for starters, he’s begun to see events running backwards in time], he decides not to return home early to his wife and son in Chicago, and makes the one impulsive decision that he’s probably ever made in his life: he rents a car and goes on a blind search for a nearby vacation spot that he remembers visiting as a child. During the course of his wanderings around the countryside, he meets Kid, an eccentric and slightly daft young man who favors Davy Crockett-style clothing and lives in an outdoor "house" marked by a trailer front façade. As a true marriage-of-opposites type friendship begins to form between Al and Kid, Al gradually learns to relax, be silly, have fun, and enjoy his life.

Review Though its story certainly breaks no new grounds, Box of Moonlight stands out from every other middle-age-crisis-self-discovery movie for two reasons: John Turturro’s terrifically understated and subtly-nuanced portrayal of Al Fountain, and the lovely magical realism with which director DiCillo imbues his film. In Box of Moonlight’s world, children pedal bicycles forwards while moving backwards, tea pours from the cup back up to the pot, and a crazy but good-hearted boy in a coonskin cap can, with the aid of a well-aimed throw of a fat, ripe tomato smack at the chest, teach a too-serious man about finding enjoyment in day-to-day life. The movie manages to be sweet, charming, fresh and lyrical, without once succumbing to cheap, saccharine sentimentality.



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