A bored Jewish housewife experiences a personal sexual revolution in the age of flower power.
Although the title refers to the defining moment of the American space programme, an event which provides a (tenuous) historical focus point for the movie, more jaded critics might read it as an ironic comment on the absence of gravity and atmosphere that dogs Tony Goldwyn's debut. The year is 1969; the Apollo mission nears the lunar surface, Vietnam is at its height (though you'd barely know it), and as a generation descends on Woodstock, thirtysomething Jewish housewife Pearl Kantrowitz (Lane) fears that life is passing her by. So while TV repairman husband, Marty (Liev Schreiber), keeps shop, she's packed off to a dreary summer resort in the Catskills with their sexually inquisitive daughter, Alison (Paquin), young son, Daniel, and "oy-veying" granny. Bored, frustrated and unfulfilled, she succumbs to the charms of Mortensen's travelling peddler, swapping blueberry picking for incongruously stylised couplings in the river and flitting off to that festival, where her drug-soaked liberation is witnessed by an appalled Paquin.
There's not a great deal amiss with the acting, especially from the excellent Paquin, who fully delivers on the promise of The Piano and Fly Away Home by bringing sensitivity to the role of the politically aware, hormonally active teenager - albeit without ever coming close to eclipsing Christina Ricci's similar turn in The Ice Storm. Lane, for all her conviction, is just a mite too glam to be fully believable as a dowdy homemaker. The romantic plotting is so cliched that the denouement may as well have been e-mailed, and the director has fooled himself into believing that a rousing soundtrack is adequate shorthand for the mood of the flower power generation.
As tales of feminine, sexual and countercultural awakening go, they don't get much more old-fashioned, schmaltzy, or earthbound than this.