Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2021 4:04 pm 
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Daughter reconciles with estranged dad by being his caregiver

This first feature by the young Greek director Jacqueline Lentzou (who already had eight shorts to her credit) is about a young woman called Artemis (Sofia Kokkali) who is called back from abroad to care for her suddenly disabled father, Paris (Lazaros Georgakopoulos). There seems to be nobody else to do it. She does this with a very ill will because she and her dad are estranged. One only wonders why she would do it at all. He himself is strange, inarticulate or at least willfully tight-lipped, not just with her. It seems he has MS, but has had a stroke, or something - nobody is sure what has happened, as the story is told.

This vagueness smooths things over as the film focuses closely on the man's disability as it must be performed by an actor, reportedly using some version of the Alexander Method as his preparation tfor a full-body recreation of tremors and general weakness. An attention-getting, risky business, which goes very well on the whole, though not entirely. There is an early scene where a physical therapist shows a group of family members, including Paris, how to help Artemis stand up and step forward. The actor, Lazaros Georgakopoulos (suggestive first name!) is so impressive I naively wondered at first if a real disabled person had been engaged for the role. However, the ease with which the actor later on fires up a cigarette with a lighter (when Paris spitefully refuses to do so), or eats, seems incompatible with his general shakiness and disability. He will not have to say much. Sofia Kokkali, who has been a frequent collaborator with the director, works too hard to show the difficult changes her character is going through.

Scenes alternate between being agonizing, and irrelevant. Why must so much time be devoted to ping pong? Like the unnecessary mythological names, other devices are added for framing - interpolations from "found" VHS family tapes from the nineties; tarot deck cards, from which the mysterious title comes - when more solid dramatic scenes might have helped, still winding up with a shorter and pithier film.

A "secret" about Artemis is revealed to Paris that, in a typically grating and molasses-slow sequence, she offers to tell him. Why bother? He knows. But he declines. Somehow this awkward discovery of hers, which we can't reveal, except to say there are rustles of interest in festival "queer" sections, makes Paris understand Artemis better. And at a restaurant meal - a difficult undertaking, one would think - he performs another feat of dexterity and slides over beside Paris and gives her a big hug. Problems solved.

Moon, 66 Questions 108 mins., had French internet release June 2020, debuted at the Berlinale Mar. 5, 2021, showed Mar. 25 at FICUNAM, Mexico, and was screened at home for this review as part of the MoMA/Film at Lincoln Center series New Directors/New Films (Apr. 28-May 8, 2021). Last Chance to Rent May 11, 6:00 PM ET.

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