A Walk on the Moon is in many ways the ultimate Viggo Mortensen movie. It takes place during the summer 1969, and focuses on the changing dynamics of the Kantrowitz family. While Marty (Liev Schrieber) works to maintain life as they know it, his wife, Pearl (Diane Lane), longs for change and finds excitement in the arms of the Blouse Man (Viggo). Like Viggo himself, the movie is complicated, full of grey areas, and very, very hot.
The summer begins like any other as the Kantrowitzes arrive at the resort they visit every year. However, Marty must return to their hometown to work during the week, leaving the others to vacation without him. Pearl doesn’t mind too much, because, frankly, she’s a little bored with their marriage, and wonders what she missed by settling down so young. When Walker Jerome a.k.a. the Blouse Man rolls into town with his bus full of blouses and tie-dyed shirts, he causes quite a stir. Not only is he handsome and seductive, he’s nice! He even gives out licorice to the kids!
Of course there is an instant attraction between Pearl and Walker, and a steamy affair ensues. I believe this is the first time Diane Lane performed the love scene she would recycle in Unfaithful and Under the Tuscan Sun, and it wasn’t quite so predictable in 1999. Pretty soon, Pearl is indulging in the youth she missed, much to the bewilderment of her family. On any given day, she can be found making out with the Blouse Man under a waterfall or dancing topless at Woodstock. Her daughter (Anna Paquin) is especially alarmed at Pearl’s behavior, and begins to rebel in her own way.
As the story unfolds, there is an inclination to try to identify a guilty party in all of this. Should we resent Walker for being the other man? Marty for being old-fashioned and naïve? Pearl for cheating? Admittedly, Pearl doesn’t come off too well on that score, but you can sympathize with her frustration, and heck, What’s so intriguing about A Walk on the Moon is that the unfortunate love triangle is nobody’s fault, just the byproduct of three unfulfilled lives that come together one fateful summer.
Despite going off the deep end when he discovers Pearl’s affair, it’s obvious that Marty is basically a good guy. He too missed out on his dreams, but he’s doing his best to appreciate the dream that did come true—having a family. Walker also truly loves Pearl, and you can see that he’s after more than a summer fling when he offers to run away with her and her children. Things finally come full circle when the two men meet face to face.
When Pearl’s son is attacked by hornets, Walker springs into action, putting meat tenderizer on the stings and carefully flicking out the stingers with the edge of a playing card. He’s so sweet about the whole thing that it kind of makes you want to go throw rocks at a hornet’s nest, just so he could look after you. Seeing the care Walker has taken with his son, Marty realizes that he is not the enemy. At the same time, Walker realizes that he had a somewhat skewed picture of Pearl’s situation. She’s not a damsel in distress, just a confused housewife in search of herself. There are no heroes or villains in A Walk on the Moon, and there are no easy answers in the end.