Cheryl Hines brings a bright touch to “Serious Moonlight”

Two years have passed since Cheryl Hines agreed to direct Adrienne Shelly’s last script, Serious Moonlight. This weekend, the movie premiers and Hines is one very proud first-time film director.

She’s also proud that Moonlight will be a fitting tribute to Shelly, who directed Hines in Waitress but was murdered in Nov. 2006, before the movie’s release.

The indie film, which stars Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long got a positive early-release review from The Hollywood Reporter — a relief for those of us who really, really want Meg to be in a watchable movie again. My fingers are crossed.

In a recent interview, Hines said she learned a lot about directing from working with Shelly.

Adrienne was a lot of fun on set. Now looking back, I have no idea how she did it. I don’t know how she directed a film and starred in it at the same time. But she always seemed to be having a very good time and really liked the actors and appreciated what was happening. Any time I had any experience with her on Waitress she just seemed to be having a good time. And I wanted to bring that to Serious Moonlight.

One of Hines’ challenges was to keep the script exactly as Shelly wrote it, yet make it her own movie.

I was going into a project knowing I wasn’t going to be able to make changes in the script. Because Andy Ostroy [Shelly’s husband] really wanted to keep the script as is. And that can be hard.

But because I knew Michael [Roiff, Ostroy’s producing partner] and Andy, I had a trust with them. I trusted that it wouldn’t be trying to make a film that Adrienne would have made, because I think that would be impossible. You wouldn’t be able to approach a project that way because there’s no way of knowing what that would be. Then you get yourself in trouble and you can’t make any decisions. But I trusted them to allow me to make a film in the way I thought the story should be told.

Serious Moonlight is the story of Louise (Ryan), a high-powered Manhattan attorney who duct-tapes her husband Ian (Hutton) to the toilet when she discovers that he’s planning to leave her for a younger woman (Bell). Here’s the trailer.

 

Most of the action in Moonlight takes place in the bathroom, so the actors carry the film. I’m hopeful that the chemistry is good enough to make the dark premise funny.

What do you think? Will Serious Moonlight get you to the theater?

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