Shoot the Moon (1982): Chronicle of Painful Divorce and Its Impact on One Family, Starring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton in Top Form

In 1982, Diane Keaton starred in the domestic drama Shoot the Moon, opposite Albert Finney, rendering one of her two or three strongest performances.

Grade: B+ (**** out of *****)

Shoot the Moon
Shoot the Moon 1982.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The title of the film alludes to the move of “shooting the moon” in the card game hearts.

Goldman began writing the script in 1971, deriving inspiration from his encounters with dysfunctional couples. He spent several years trying to secure a major film studio.

One of the most realistic (and painful) portraitures of divorce, the tale centers on George (Finney) and Faith Dunlap (Keaton), whose deteriorating marriage, separation and love affairs have devastating effects on their welfare as well as that of their four children.

Shoot the Moon received mostly positive reviews from critics and Keaton’s performance highly praised. Pauline Kael from The New Yorker opined that the film was “perhaps the most revealing American movie of the era” and wrote of Keaton: “Diane Keaton may be a star without vanity: she’s so completely challenged by the role of Faith that all she cares about is getting the character right. Very few young American movie actresses have the strength and the instinct for the toughest dramatic roles — intelligent, sophisticated heroines. Jane Fonda did, around the time that she appeared in Klute and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? but that was more than ten years ago. There hasn’t been anybody else until now. Diane Keaton acts on a different plane from that of her previous film roles; she brings the character a full measure of dread and awareness, and does it in a special, intuitive way that’s right for screen acting.”

David Denby of New York magazine felt Keaton was “perfectly relaxed and self-assured” noting, “Keaton has always found it easy enough to bring out the anger that lies beneath the soft hesitancy of her surface manner, but she’s never dug down and found this much pain before.

Keaton’s performance garnered her a second Golden Globe nomination in a row for Best Actress in a Drama, following Reds.

Despite strong reviews, the movie was a commercial failure.


Directed by Alan Parker
Written by Bo Goldman
Produced by Alan Marshall
Cinematography Michael Seresin

Edited by Gerry Hambling

Production and distribution company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: January 22, 1982

Running time: 123 minutes
Budget $12 million