Moment by Moment (1978)

Genres - Romance, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Melodrama  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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It's not the worst film ever made, but Moment by Moment has precious little going for it. Moment is extremely earnest, wanting to be a character study of two lonely people, as well as a comment on the emptiness of modern life, but its earnestness is no substitute for well-crafted, believable drama. Jane Wagner's screenplay is dead, almost totally devoid of life, and equally devoid of compelling characters that behave in a plausible manner. The writer wants the audience to feel for and care about these characters, but they instead inspire irritation -- not because they are flawed characters, but because theirs flaws do not contribute to an understanding of them or fulfill a dramatic function. Given the meandering aimlessness of the writing, there's not much that John Travolta and Lily Tomlin could do; even so, the actors fail to inject anything resembling life into the proceedings. They do have one or two good moments, such as Tomlin's early phone conversation with her husband, but the moments are few and far between. Wagner does not help things with her sluggish pacing, and her generally labored direction just adds to the deadening effect. Moment is never actually good, but at least the early sections of the film show some promise before it becomes annoying and finally excruciating.