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Moving On is NOT a Comedy, But Fonda and Tomlin’s Friendship is Still the Main Attraction

By Lori Perkins

Moving On, the Jane Fonda/Lily Tomlin film that showed up on my Hulu channel without much fan-fare (because of the writers’/SAG strikes) kind of caught me by surprise. I loved Grace and Frankie, and was eager to see more of that camaraderie, which is what I expected from this film, which I had not seen a single review of.

I was completely unprepared.

But not really surprised, considering who they are and what else they’ve done together.

The film opens at the funeral of a close friend of the two women, who have fallen out of touch with each other after being best friends during their college years, and after. Jane Fonda’s character Clare has married and is living near her daughter and grandchildren in Ohio. Tomlin’s Evie has retired from playing in an orchestra and is living in an independent wing of an assisted living facility near the widower.

And the widower of the dead friend, Howard, played by Malcolm McDowell, is sort of surprised to see the two of them at the funeral, especially after Evie shows up in the middle of his eulogy, to somewhat comedic effect. You are lulled into thinking this might be a comedy, only to be jarred out of that assumption when Clare tells the widower that she is going to kill him this weekend.

And that is the plot of the film.

We gradually learn, like the peeling away of the layers of an onion, that 46 years ago, Howard had forced himself on Clare, who has kept that secret all these years, although it ruined her first marriage to Ralph (played by a debonair Richard Roundtree) and the untethering of the friendship between her and Evie.

Various not-so-funny attempts are made on Howard’s life by Clare, with Evie’s assistance (because Evie hates him too, because she and the dead woman were lovers in college), none of which work, but alls well that ends well, as Howard gets his comeuppance.

It’s a very strong film that should resonate for a long time with excellent performances. If it were a novel, it would have definitely been award-winning women’s fiction.


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