Picks and Pans Review: Shoot the Moon

updated 02/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/15/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

From the moment Albert Finney walks out on Diane Keaton, his wife of 15 years and mother of their four school-age daughters, Shoot the Moon reverberates with little jolts of recognition for anyone whose life has been touched by divorce. The film's subject is the shock, pain and adjustment of the first month of a couple's separation, and despite the obvious emotional engineering, nothing feels pat. Bo (Melvin and Howard) Goldman's caustic, honest screenplay can also be prankishly funny, as when the kids must cope with Karen Allen, as the stylish divorcée Finney moves in with, and Peter Weller, as the sexy contractor Keaton takes to her bed. The three younger children are excellent, but Dana Hill (of TV's Fallen Angel), as the troubled, back-talking eldest, rakes the heart. Director Alan (Fame) Parker keeps the film's melodramatic moments under firm control and elicits remarkable work from his two stars. Keaton is Annie Hall matured, sexually spirited and possessing a fiery new edge. As for Finney, after three recent film fizzles (Wolfen, Looker, Loophole), the delight he takes in such meaty material is almost palpable. "You always had such a pretty smile," he says to Keaton, momentarily forgetting that he has just erased her from his life. The longing and loss in that remark is the essence of the film: a hardboiled counter-valentine for the '80s. (R)

From Our Partners