A bucolic coming-of-age story set in 1957 Louisiana, The Man in the Moon follows Reese Witherspoon, the 14-year-old daughter of Sam Waterston and Tess Harper. She’s envious of her college-bound sister (Emily Warfield) and moons over pictures of Elvis Presley. All that changes with the arrival of Jason London.
London, the man of the house since his father’s death, becomes friendly with Witherspoon against his better judgment. Inevitable conflict arises when London meets the older sister, and he quickly relegates Witherspoon to the status of kid sister.
Unfortunately, vet director Robert Mulligan and tyro screenwriter Jenny Wingfield could not come up with a dramatic resolution to this triangle, and resort to a melodramatic device that at once brings the conflict between the two sisters to a head while removing the source of it.
The performances are all on the money, but two are outstanding. Newcomer Witherspoon manages to strike exactly the right note as the tomboy on the verge of womanhood while Waterston works on several levels at once.
Shot on location in Natchitoches, La, film is aided by cinematography of Freddie Francis, who catches the summer light and warmth important to the story.