A Walk on the Moon

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A Walk on the Moon
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTony Goldwyn
Written byPamela Gray
Produced byJay Cohen
Tony Goldwyn
Lee Gottsegen
Dustin Hoffman
Neil Koenigsberg
Murray Schisgal
CinematographyAnthony B. Richmond
Edited byDana Congdon
Music byMason Daring
Distributed byMiramax Films[1]
Release date
  • 2 April 1999 (1999-04-02)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States[2]
Budget$14 million[3]
Box office$4,750,660[4]

A Walk on the Moon is a 1999 drama film starring Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Liev Schreiber and Anna Paquin. The film, which was set against the backdrop of the Woodstock festival of 1969 and the United States's Moon landing of that year, was distributed by Miramax Films. Directed by Tony Goldwyn in his directorial debut, the film was acclaimed on release. Diane Lane earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead for her performance.


Pearl Kantrowitz and her husband Marty are a lower middle class Jewish couple in New York City. For the summer of 1969, the couple go on their annual vacation at Dr. Fogler's Bungalows in the Catskills with their family, which includes teen daughter Alison, young son Danny, and Marty's mother Lillian.

Marty, who works as a television repairman back in the city, can only visit his family at the camp on the weekends. Pearl, who got pregnant with Alison at 17 and quickly married Marty, feels at a crossroads in her life. She meets Walker Jerome, a free-spirited salesman who goes from resort to resort selling clothes. With Marty absent, Pearl starts spending more time with Walker and they begin an affair.

Meanwhile, Alison undergoes her own summer of changes and experiences teenage rites of passage—her first period, her first date, and her first kiss with Ross Epstein, a boy at the camp.

The impending Moon landing has kept Marty busy at his job, as customers are anxious to have their TV sets ready for the historic event. While the whole town celebrates Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon, Pearl and Walker have sex. Marty's mother Lillian learns of the affair and tries to persuade Pearl to break it off. But the affair continues when Marty cannot visit on the weekend because of the traffic jams caused by the huge Woodstock festival, which is taking place within walking distance of the bungalow colony.

Pearl goes to the festival with Walker. Alison goes to the festival as well with her friends, although her mother had explicitly forbidden her to do so. When Alison happens to see Pearl in the festival crowds carousing with Walker while on LSD, she becomes upset and leaves with Ross.

Marty learns of his wife's affair and confronts Pearl. Alison also confronts her mother in an emotional scene. Pearl is forced to deal with her love of her family and her conflicting yearning for marital freedom.

Pearl decides to stay with Marty and tells Walker she can’t go away with him. Walker says he understands. The final scene shows Pearl and Marty dancing together, first to Dean Martin's "When You're Smiling" and then to Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze", after Marty changes the radio station.




Playwright Pamela Gray, inspired by her own experiences vacationing with her family in a Catskills bungalow colony as a youth, first wrote the script in 1992.[5] Gray said, "I remember sitting by the pool in Dr. Locker’s bungalow colony and watching the hippies walk by on the way to Woodstock. And it was this time warp. We’ve got women playing mah-jongg and canasta and the guys are playing pinochle. We are this little ‘50s enclave, and everything outside was in the 1960s."[6] The script was originally titled "The Blouse Man" and won the national Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award.[7]

Gray was unsuccessful in getting the script produced, as financiers told her the story was "too small, too soft, not universal, and too Jewish."[6] Years later, actor Tony Goldwyn, the grandson of Samuel Goldwyn, came across the script by coincidence and was immediately drawn to the story's themes of midlife identity crises and coming-of-age against the backdrop of the 1960s counterculture.[8][6] Said Goldwyn, ''You suddenly see your life laid out in front of you. And you say, 'Is this the life I dreamed of having? Am I the person I wanted to become?' If the answer's no, that's a very scary moment. And sometimes what it takes to deal with that is very risky: it requires shattering the status quo."[7]

Goldwyn originally intended to only produce, but after not finding a director who shared his passion for the story, decided to direct the film himself.[7]


The film was shot in the Laurentian Mountains in eastern Canada over a period of 36 days in the summer of 1997.[7][9] Liev Schreiber based his character Marty on his own grandfather.[6]


A Walk on the Moon
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedMarch 23, 1999
GenreRock, folk rock
LabelSire Records

The soundtrack for the film was released March 23, 1999 through Sire Records. It contains sixteen tracks.[10]

Professional ratings
Review scores
A Walk on the Moon
1."Sunlight" (The Youngbloods)3.08
2."Town Without Pity" (Mandy Barnett)2:53
3."Wishin' and Hopin'" (Dusty Springfield)2:54
4."Sally Go 'Round the Roses" (Damnations TX)3:21
5."Summertime" (Big Brother and the Holding Company)3:59
6."Crystal Blue Persuasion" (Morcheeba)3:53
7."Today" (Jefferson Airplane)3:02
8."Embryonic Journey" (Jefferson Airplane)1:51
9."Cactus Tree" (Joni Mitchell)4:37
10."Ripple" (The Grateful Dead)4:11
11."Helplessly Hoping" (Taxiride)2:21
12."No Matter What You Do" (Mojave 3)2:13
13."Who Knows Where the Times Goes" (Judy Collins)4:46
14."White Bird" (It's a Beautiful Day)3:09
15."Follow" (Richie Havens)4:45
16."Crimson & Clover" (Elijah Blue Allman and Cher)3:37
Total length:54:40


Before its release, the film secured distribution from Miramax.[8] It was first shown at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, where an enthusiastic reception convinced Miramax to release the film theatrically that spring.[8]

A Walk on the Moon went into limited release on March 26, 1999, and expanded nationwide through the month of April.[9] Its worldwide box office total was $4,750,660.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

A Walk on the Moon received positive reviews among critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 73% based on 37 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's consensus states: "An impressive showcase for Diane Lane and an assured debut from director Tony Goldwyn, A Walk on the Moon finds absorbing period drama within a family at a crossroads."[11] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 70 out of 100, based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12]

Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the film "becomes something larger and deeper as we watch" and that the character of Allison is an obvious surrogate for screenwriter Pamela Gray.[13] He added that what makes A Walk in the Moon interesting is its refusal to take sides or villainize any one person given that it "is about that old '60s polarity -- the hip and the square, the trapped and the free."[13] Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post praised Diane Lane's "capacity to express the yearning that Pearl feels as authentically as the guilt she suffers."[14] He also described Marty as a "schlumph".[14] Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote, "Even when it turns turbulent, the film sustains its warm summer glow, and makes itself a conversation piece about the moral issues it means to raise."[15]

Ty Burr of Entertainment Weekly gave a more mixed review and criticized the film's ending, but noted "'A Walk on the Moon' still nails the cultural crosscurrents of 1969 — the way that a woman who has been walking the straight and narrow for years could suddenly give in to all the freedom rushing by around her."[16]

Desson Howe, also of the Washington Post, found the film "a little too perfect and symbolically signposted for its own good".[17] Roger Ebert gave a mixed review but singled out Anna Paquin’s performance, saying her plot line “as a teenage girl struggling with new ideas and raging hormones” is the film’s most compelling story.[18]

Readers of Entertainment Weekly ranked the film as #9 on the magazine's "50 Sexiest Movies Ever" poll in 2008.[19]


Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Chlotrudis Awards Best Supporting Actor Liev Schreiber Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead Diane Lane Nominated
National Board of Review Awards Special Recognition for Excellence in Filmmaking Won
Satellite Awards Best Screenplay – Original Pamela Gray Nominated
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actress Anna Paquin Nominated
YoungStar Awards Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Film Nominated

Musical adaptation[edit]

Pamela Gray adapted her script into a stage musical, with music and lyrics by Paul Scott Goodman and AnnMarie Milazzo.[26] The musical was first staged by the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in June 2018.[5] The musical was set to debut at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey in 2020 but was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.[26] The play ultimately opened on April 26, 2022 presented by the George Street Playhouse.[27]


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  2. ^ "A Walk on the Moon". BFi. Archived from the original on 31 January 2018. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  3. ^ "A Walk on the Moon (1999)". The Numbers. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  4. ^ a b "A Walk on the Moon". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  5. ^ a b Gloster, Rob (24 May 2018). "ACT's sexy 'Walk on the Moon' a Jewish tour de force". J. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d Milvy, Erika (25 March 1999). "The Dawning of Aquarius". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d Gold, Sylviane (28 March 1999). "FILM; A Goldwyn on the Way Up in the Family Business". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 12 February 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  8. ^ a b c "'A Walk on the Moon' has Goldwyn walking in ancestors' shoes". Deseret News. 9 April 1999. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  9. ^ a b "A Walk on the Moon | Miscellaneous Notes". Turner Classic Movie Database. Archived from the original on 3 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  10. ^ a b "A Walk on the Moon". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 28 August 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
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  12. ^ "A Walk on the Moon Reviews". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Archived from the original on 28 February 2023. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  13. ^ a b Wilmington, Michael (2 April 1999). "'A Walk on the Moon' Makes '60s Palpable in Its Own Quiet Way". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 13 August 2021. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  14. ^ a b Hunter, Stephen (2 April 1999). "Taking Stock at Woodstock". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (26 March 1999). "'A Walk on the Moon': A Giant Leap for a New York Housewife". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  16. ^ Burr, Ty (26 May 1999). "One film's lesson about Woodstock, adultery, and creative dishonesty". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  17. ^ Howe, Desson (2 April 1999). "'A Walk' Toward a Dead End". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger (2 April 1999). "A Walk on the Moon movie review (1999)". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on 30 August 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  19. ^ "50 Sexiest Movies Ever". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
  20. ^ "2000, 6th Annual Awards". chlotrudis.org. Archived from the original on 9 November 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  21. ^ Clinton, Paul (26 March 2000). "A warmup for the big show 'Election' voted best film in Spirit Awards". CNN. Archived from the original on 28 August 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  22. ^ "1999 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Archived from the original on 30 June 2021. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  23. ^ "4th Satellite Awards". filmaffinity.com. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  24. ^ "21st Youth In Film Awards". YoungArtistAward.org. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  25. ^ "The Hollywood Reporter's 4th Annual YoungStar Awards Hosts and Nominees Announced". PR Newswire. 2 September 1999. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2022 – via The Free Library.
  26. ^ a b Paolino, Charles (25 April 2022). "Author Pamela Gray talks about "A Walk on the Moon"". New Jersey Stage. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  27. ^ "A Walk on the Moon". George Street Playhouse. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 2 September 2022.

External links[edit]