‘Reaching for the Moon’ Movie Review – No Foundation
In a year full of biopics or “true stories,” it’s pretty easy for a story to go under the radar. Reaching for the Moon is a biopic about the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and author Elizabeth Bishop. You may recognize her name or her work, but you probably don’t know her life story. Director Bruno Barreto (View From the Top) tries his hardest to tell part of her story; however, the script decides to overreach its bounds, which ultimately waters down the product.
Reaching for the Moon, if confined to a one sentence synopsis, is about the life struggles of American poet Elizabeth Bishop (Miranda Otto) and her lover, Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares (Gloria Pires). If given a two sentence synopsis, I could also explain that the movie tries to incorporate her writing skills, the tumultuous Brazilian government issues, and one of the many hitches to Bishop and Soares’ relationship – Mary (Tracy Middendorf) – within the wider narrative.
However, with all synopses comes the truth that they’re made to make the film seem interesting and enjoyable. While I don’t want to say Reaching for the Moon is neither of these, I will say that a synopsis is still better than the movie.
One of the biggest turn-offs is the all-encompassing script that seems far too disjointed. It didn’t help the film to try so much when just trying to explore the on-again-off-again relationship between the two leads.
Their relationship starts with barely any foundation, and surely doesn’t gain any credibility as the movie goes on either. Even being close to two hours long, the primary relationship seems to be a fluke, if nothing else, and without a strong base, it’s hard to believe everything that is going on.
Believe, I realize, isn’t the best word to use because this movie is based on a true story. Whether the script, the directing, or the acting is to blame, nothing can take away from the “truth” behind it.
The problem is that it doesn’t make me care too much about the truth because it plays out a lot like a soap opera. And not in the good ways (is there a good way?).
Like most movies, there is still a degree of slack I should cut. I already mentioned that they’re adapting a story from a real life person (and a successful person at that). Even if I think it comes off as too melodramatic, that’s part of the appeal right? I should also mention that the two leads shouldn’t be blamed either because they both bring their “A” game (or what I assume is probably their “A” game).
With seemingly thousands of movies releasing each year, I like to give a fair amount of credit to movies that may go under the radar. However, for every one movie that doesn’t make it, there are the countless failures. Burno Barreto’s Reaching for the Moon isn’t a complete flop, but it doesn’t belong in the same category as some other great biopics about American authors. It doesn’t belong in a lot of categories for that matter.
Reaching for the Moon opened in New York City on November 8th before expanding to Los Angeles this past weekend. Check your local theaters for potential showtimes.
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