Berlin Film Festival 2021: Moon, 66 questions

Berlin Film Festival 2021: Moon, 66 questions | Exam

March 1, 2021


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This promising domestic drama about a young woman reconnecting with her ailing parent has a clever scene in which the former learns to maneuver the weakened patient, once her protector and guardian. Transmitted by a skilful selection of shots, the reversal of roles reveals an inverted diptych of father and daughter: the strong have become weak; the weak must now become strong. The accumulated hierarchies of the past, however, continue to assert themselves in the present. The couple’s prior estrangement is based on a continuing lack of communication, evidenced by the elderly man’s declining ability to speak aloud about his suffering.

The beginning describes a vague sense of terrain through recorded footage that replicates a home video aesthetic. The timestamps point to the late ’90s setting, overlaid with a tense discussion that features Artemis (Sofia Kokkali) as she returns from France to Greece to care for her father, Paris (Lazaros Georgakopoulos). Although their names evoke blatant mythological resonance, the story mostly circumscribes ancient tragedy for calculated Euro-realism.

Jacqueline Lentzou’s feature debut has a sense of style, overall, exemplified by unfolding optical and aural ellipses: extreme close-ups, distorted images, door glimpses, fogged lenses, sun-soaked reflections and sound design discordant. Such techniques quite ape the disorientation caused by serious illness while maintaining a particular distance between the viewer and the events depicted. The shifts in color scale helpfully situate Artemis with her father, then their extended middle-class family: the dark gray hues of the hospital give way to the bright yellows of the garden and the stark blues of the swimming pool.

There are several occasions where the Greek director’s mannered approach to image-making intrudes on the narrative. Pictorial dexterity insinuates poisonous undergrowth, rendering rotten peppers as still life, a ruthless job interview as bourgeois tableaux and tarot cards as intertitles. The voiceover meanwhile notes fluctuations in the moon’s age and appearance, leaning into larger cosmic themes that balance the theoretical intimacy between Paris and Artemis. Allusions to mysticism and astrology join intrusions of private history, as the girl recounts her complicated bond with what is now a quivering exoskeleton.

Although the acting is quite compelling, the script’s cultural references to Gena Rowlands and Catcher in the rye tend to entertain rather than intrigue. The work works best when using solid materials for symbolism. Markers of consequence, such as the angular store mannequins with phantom limbs and the cuboids of crushed car metal suspended in the air, exhibit perfect, insensitive forms. These function as counterpoints to the state of well-being in Paris: that of a tottering human body and will. Therein lies the film’s visual compassion for its subjects, whom it treats as difficult people capable of belated redemption.

joseph owen

Moon, 66 questions does not yet have a UK release date.

Read more reviews of our 2021 Berlin Film Festival coverage here.

For more information on the event, visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.

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