Film Review – Moon, 66 Questions (2021)

Jacqueline Lentzou’s debut feature sets out its stall right from the start. Moon, 66 Questions is “a film about love, movement, flow (and the lack of them)” yet in raising our expectations, it also manages to accentuate a distinctly elusive quality in the film, one that leaves it to us to fill in the gaps or makes us wait until the very end for the final piece of the jigsaw.

Artemis (Soffia Kokkali) has been estranged from both her parents and living away from the family home in Athens for some time. She’s summonsed back when her father, Paris’s (Lazaros Georgakopoulos) multiple sclerosis puts him in hospital and it’s evident he’s no longer capable of looking after himself. Despite her distance from both parents – and Paris in particular – Artemis becomes his carer while the rest of the family sit around like a Greek chorus, observing her at work, interviewing additional carers and generally bickering about how things should proceed. Her mother, who is separated from Paris, keeps the situation at arm’s length, while family friend Iakovos (Nikitas Tsakiroglou) is more involved in her father’s illness than Artemis feels he should be.

There’s a dream like quality to Lentzou’s film, one enhanced by the low voices, the scant soundtrack and frequently soft focus photography. But there are times when that dream turns into something of a personal nightmare for Artemis. While a happy and close family is something we all aspire to, not all of us are lucky enough to have one and she falls into the latter category. Much of the distance and lingering tension between her and her father remains unspoken for much of the film: his illness means he has difficulty speaking, but it’s clear he resents being looked after by her, at times refusing to co-operate. More painful for her are the memories of their relationship when she lived at home and she re-enacts them in private, playing both parts, in a scene which is razor sharp in its truth and depiction of the damage she’s suffered.

Yet, lingering somewhere underneath, she still wants to love him, to break down the wall between them and for them to be close again. It’s what moves her to carry on as his carer, even though it’s completely new territory for her as well as physically and mentally draining. The film unfolds its explanation of her past through her own home footage, mainly shot when she was younger and, while some aspects still remain elusive, others knit together in an ending that satisfies most of our curiosity. The dreamlike quality, while soft and seductive, isn’t always as gentle as it appears, disguising an intensity that makes the climax of the film between father and daughter so emotional and genuinely moving.

Kokkali is hardly off camera for the duration and the probing, lingering close-ups of her face fill the screen, asking much of her performance. She’s more than up to the task, especially good when it comes to struggling with having to be the strong one while her father weakens (a complete and cruel reversal of their roles during her childhood), the pain which goes with the distance between her and her parents and her tentative steps towards healing. Sometimes it’s a film that leaves a little too much unsaid and the Tarot cards which punctuate the narrative are more of a distraction than anything else, but its emotional core is sound and profound, and that’s what matters.

★★★1/2


Drama | Cert: 12A | Modern Films | UK cinemas from 24 June 2022 | Dir. Jacqueline Lentzou | Soffia Kokkali, Lazaros Georgakopoulos, Nikitas Tsakiroglou.

Read our interview with director Jacqueline Lentzou.