(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The MovieMoonstruck

Where You Can Stream It: Amazon Prime

The Pitch: Convinced that her life is cursed, Italian-American widow Loretta (Cher) has resigned herself to marriage with a dimwitted man that she doesn’t love, until she meets his hotheaded younger brother, Ronny (Nicolas Cage). Loretta falls hard and deep, one of the film’s many couples who rediscover the overwhelming magnitude of love.

Why It’s Essential Quarantine Viewing: A young Nicolas Cage channeling a raw sexuality, paired with Cher giving her most starry-eyed performance (and one that deservedly won her an Academy Award). And so much bread and aggressive Italian gesturing. What’s not to love?

Moonstruck is a big, swooning romance where everything is heightened: the color, the emotions, the volume at which the film’s Shakespearean dialogue is yelled by its heavily New York-accented stars. Nothing is too on the nose for Moonstruck, which breathes and bleeds Italian, and it’s all the better for it. This is a movie that starts off with a splashy shot of the moon while Dean Martin’s honeyed rendition of “That’s Amore” plays, after all. It’s not reality, it’s cinema.

Cher stars as Loretta, a downbeat Italian-American widow who is convinced that her first marriage was cursed. So when her sweet but dull boyfriend Johnny (Danny Aiello) proposes to her, she accepts on the condition that they do everything right: a proper wedding, with a proper ring, in a proper church. But those plans quickly get derailed when she meets Johnny’s fiery younger brother, a bread maker named Ronny (Cage), who bears a grudge against Johnny for the loss of his hand and his own fiancée. But when Loretta tries to make peace with Ronny for Johnny’s sake, she finds herself inevitably attracted to his gruff and straightforward personality, and falls head over heels.

Though often spoken of in the upper echelons of the romantic-comedy, Moonstruck is pure melodrama. Every character speaks in riddles or poetry, and every hand gesture is so aggressively, completely Italian. Cher is dazzling as Loretta, who transforms from dowdy bookkeeper into, well, Cher after falls for Ronny. And Cage is pure primal masculinity as Ronny, whose awkward charms make him one of the strangest and most sensual romantic leading men to grace the silver screen. Their chemistry is searing and sudden and hits you like a tidal wave — he the lone wolf who bluntly says things like, “We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die” with the delivery of a sad dog, she the realist who famously tries to slap sense into him (twice). But despite the central romance of Loretta and Ronny, Moonstruck is really a tale of a multigenerational Italian-American family: Loretta’s lonely mother, her adulterous father, her starstruck aunt and uncle who become enchanted by the moon. All of them lend the film a rich texture that makes it absolutely magical.

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