A tale of revenge in “Moving On” 

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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Heading to the screen this week is “Moving On,” an engrossing and darkly wry film, with a resonant depth of raw emotion expertly inhabited by its leads. The leads in question, Claire and her best friend Evelyn, are respectively played by the duo of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. 


Directing this reliable pairing is Paul Weitz, a director mostly known for comedy, whose sensibilities are tailored to serve the darkly comedic dynamic of Claire and Evelyn while never letting the comedy overshadow the film’s more serious moments. 

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At the center of the film’s plot is a pain in Claire’s past. Nearly half a century to the film’s present day, Claire had been the victim of sexual assault by a friend’s husband, Howard. Out of a lack of faith in the legal system, misplaced personal shame, and love for her friend Joyce (Howard’s wife), Claire has kept the details of her suffering a secret. 


Claire has found herself a rigid shell of her former identity, robbed of her safety and her vivacity. She has pulled away from friends and family alike, protecting herself with isolation and controlled restraint. However, Joyce’s passing soon brings Claire back into connection with not only her old friend Evelyn, but also with Howard, and a newfound resolution takes hold in Claire’s heart—the plan for revenge. 


On the surface, “Moving On” is a tale of revenge, but like many other stories of retribution or justice, the revenge itself is secondary to the journey of personal growth and emotional bonding shared by the main characters. 


This is a film that emphasizes that the life of a victim need not stop at the point of transgression and that life can still be a safe place for the vulnerability of joy and openness. It is a film that celebrates positive and supportive relationships. However, as the film depicts, the trauma of feeling violated will naturally cause one to put up walls, to protect oneself from sources of pain, and in doing so ironically close oneself off from the sources of love. 


The film’s runtime is relatively short, allowing the emotive moments to shine all the brighter without narrative distraction. The story is straightforward, but nonetheless engaging in its approach and the dynamics of the lead characters. 


Evelyn and Claire offer the bulk of the film’s comedy in their witty exchanges and often fumbling attempts at planning out their dark revenge. However, as Tomlin and Fonda have shown many times before, their natural chemistry lends itself to depth and emotional weight as easily as it does to a film’s comedic strokes. 


“Moving On” will be challenging in moments, as any emotional vulnerability can be, but the viewer is rewarded for their own vulnerability in taking a chance on the film, rewarded with the promise that life does move on.