Shine on Harvest Moon
English teacher, Maggie Webber (Jacqueline Bisset - An Old Fashioned Christmas) not only discovers that her husband has been cheating on her with his secretary but it is not the first time that he has cheated on her. With her life all of a sudden turned upside down, after almost 25 years of marriage, Maggie decides to take a trip down memory lane to the lakes where as a teenager she met her first love Patrick Fleming. Unaware that Patrick has passed away Maggie also discovers that the old dance venue "The Harvest Moon" has fallen into a state of disrepair. So with a loan from the bank she decides to take a sabbatical from teaching and renovate the old place. It brings her in touch with John Keats Fleming (Eric Mabius - Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again), Patrick's son and before long they become romantically involved. But it leaves Maggie trying to work out whether it is John she is falling for or that he reminds her of his father.
Adapted from K.C. McKinnon's novel of the same name "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" is 100% typical of a romantic-drama which has been made as a TV movie. That means that for some this story of an older woman falling for a younger man, the son of her first true love, will be pleasant and romantic whilst others will see it as weak, slushy and occasionally corny. For me it was pleasant, "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" is what I would call a TV take on a Douglas Sirk style melodrama but done on a lot lesser budget and I imagine with tighter time constraints. But it works and whilst you sort of know how things are going to play out in this May to December romance it keeps you watching with enjoyable performances from Jacqueline Bisset and Eric Mabius.
So you can sum up "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" as another one of those movies which features a romance between an older woman and a younger man and as such features various elements which are typical to this scenario. But where this is a little different is that the young man, John, is the son of Maggie's first love giving this a layer of complexity as to whether Maggie is falling in love with John or falling in love because he reminds her of her first love. It is a nice extra layer which helps to make "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" more interesting especially when certain elements play out in a familiar manner. But unfortunately being a made for TV movie the emotional depth of the story never truly comes across.
Aside from this twist on a May to December relationship the rest of "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" is shall we say typical. The fleeting intro never really gels, only providing a quick way for Maggie to return to the lake and the Harvest Moon and once there the beautiful surroundings are capitalised upon where ever possible. It means that when it comes to this romantic melodrama it does border on the slushy and heavily employs soft focused, overly composed and framed romantic scenes such as when John dances with Maggie. But whilst often bordering on the corny it sort of works because it is what you expect. Plus the great choice of music adds to that whole pleasant, nostalgic side with Billy Vera showing up as the singer on the opening night of The Harvest Moon.
Now when it comes to the characters they also suffer from "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" being a TV movie because not only do they lack depth they often have some unrealistic dialogue. But having said that the main characters are well played with Eric Mabius doing a nice job of playing loved up John whilst Jacqueline Bisset delivers the conflict of feelings over her first love's son. Yes some of the acting is over the top and with director Bobby Roth loving to create romantic scenes which seem posed it often feels the actors are too staged even though it is what you expect from a made for TV romantic melodrama.
What this all boils down to is that "Dancing at the Harvest Moon" is pretty much what you would expect from this sort of movie with lots of soft focus, romantic scenes and not a great amount of depth. But it is enjoyable with a nice take on the age difference relationship scenario with an added element to make it a little less obvious.
Tags: Age Gap Romances