Released:  1987

Cast:  Cher, Nicolas Cage, Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello

Oscar Wins:  Best Actress (Cher), Best Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis), Best Original Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley)

Oscar Nominations:  Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Vincent Gardenia), Best Director (Norman Jewison)

SUMMARY:  Loretta Castorini (Cher) is a 37-year old widow who lives in New York with her Sicilian parents, Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia) and Rose (Olympia Dukakis), along with her paternal grandfather.  For some time, Loretta has been dating Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiell0); though Loretta likes Johnny, she freely admits that she does not love him.  However, when he proposes to her, she accepts.  Johnny is leaving for Sicily in a few days, to visit his dying mother, and wants to get married before he goes.  Loretta insists that they wait a month and have a traditional wedding, since her first marriage occurred in a courthouse, and she believes it was bad luck from this that killed her husband.  Johnny reluctantly agrees, and asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny (Nicolas Cage) to the wedding while he is in Italy.  The next day, Loretta goes to the bakery where Ronny works.  There, she learns about the bad blood between the brothers:  Ronny was once engaged himself, but lost his fiancee after mangling and losing his hand in a bread slicer.  Ronny blames Johnny for this because Johnny talking to him while he was slicing the bread.  Ronny is still extremely bitter, but Loretta manages to get him talking.  She believes that Ronny subconsciously cut off his hand on purpose, to get out of the relationship with his fiancee.  Ronny is angry at this diagnosis, and after wrecking the kitchen, he kisses Loretta.  After she kisses him back, the two spend the night together.  During the night, Loretta sees an extremely bright moon; her uncle Raymond notices the same moon.In the morning, Loretta reacts with horror to what she has done.  Ronny announces that he is in love with her, but she slaps him and tells him to “snap out of it!”  She argues that they can never see each other again, but Ronny gets her agree to go to the opera with him that night.

After finishing at work, Loretta decides to get her hair dyed and styled, removing the gray (to the excitement of the stylists); she also buys a new dress.  She then goes to confession, and finds her mother also at the church.  Rose announces that Cosmo is cheating on her, but Loretta does not believe her.  However, that night, she sees her father and his mistress, Mona, at the same opera.  Loretta is impressed by the opera, the first she has seen, but this is tempered by the sight of her father and Mona.  When Cosmo sees that Loretta is with Ronny, he suggests that they both just stay quiet.  Loretta and Ronny return to his apartment, where they again spend the night together.  Meanwhile, Rose has decided to go out to dinner by herself, and ends up eating and talking with a college professor who has just been very publicly dumped.  She tells him of her theory that men chase women because they fear death.  The two walk back to Rose’s house together, but part ways there.  Not long after this, Johnny unexpectedly shows up up at the house and announces that his mother has made a miraculous recovery.  While he and Rose wait for Loretta, they discuss men and women, and Johnny reveals that he also believes men chase women because they fear death.  When Loretta does not return, Johnny decides to come back the next morning.  The next day, Loretta waltzes in, only to have her mood shattered by her mother’s revelation that Johnny has returned.  While she is trying to get ready, Ronny shows up, and Rose (realizing this is who Loretta has been with) invites him to stay for breakfast.  They are soon joined by Loretta, her father and her grandfather.  During the meal, Rose asks Cosmo if she has been a good wife; when he agrees that she has, she makes him promise to end his affair and go to confession.  He then admits that he is sorry, and that he still loves Rose.  Loretta’s aunt and uncle then arrive, and are still then when Johnny reappears.  In front of everybody, he announces that he cannot marry Loretta, as it would kill his mother (superstitions related to her recovery).  Loretta is angry, but Ronny seizes the moment and asks her to marry him instead.  Loretta agrees, and the whole family (including a confused Johnny) celebrates.

MY TAKE:  Love her or hate her, you have to respect Cher.  She has an Oscar, a Grammy, and an Emmy, as well as a CFDA Fashion Award, three Golden Globes, and a Cannes Film Festival Award.  She’s also the only person ever to have a Billboard #1 single in every decade from the 1960s to the 2010s.  Basically, she’s a badass.  Weird, but badass.  She obviously does well in this movie, although Olympia Dukakis steals most of the scenes she’s in (she also won an Oscar for this movie).  It’s a pretty good movie, but it would be a lot better without Nicolas Cage.  First of all, he’s noticeably a lot younger than Cher (like 15 years); second, he’s a complete cheeseball.  He might be a Coppola, but his acting leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s really distracting, and actually takes away from the rest of the movie.  I thought the missing-hand thing was really odd, and really didn’t need to be in the story.  It’s not used for comic or dramatic purposes, and there could easily be another cause of drama between the brothers.  Cher manages to carry the scenes when they’re together, but the best scenes are the ones within the Castorini family.

RATING:  Not bad.




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