The flickering of a VHS tape is a luminous reminder for Artemis. A young woman forced to return to her Greek residence in hope of reconciliation with her estranged father, the VHS tapes from her youth are a haunting symbol of his permanent absence in her early years. Paris — the man now ridden with a case of multiple-sclerosis — is stricken by both the realisation of his actions and his own chronic condition. But below the surface, there’s something looming amongst Artemis and Paris — a mutual understanding of a secret so well-hidden, that tests their relationship throughout Moon, 66 Questions. As the official debut feature from Greek director Jacqueline Lentzou, her persistent eye for subtly and unique experimental wavelengths are both Moon, 66 Questions‘ thematic anchor and downfall.
Lentzou opens her film with an unforgettable usage of the aforementioned VHS tapes. Presented as a forgotten diary into the dates, experiences, and testimonies of both Paris and Artemis; the poetic lyricism featured in these scenes offer plenty of insight on the disconnect between the two characters. The film does after all opens with a title card which details the film’s prominent focus on themes of love, movement, and flow. It’s the crux of the piece, where Lentozu playfully channels Artemis’ cycles of regret and remorse through various iterations of visual metaphor.
As set up, these fragmented moments of free-verse experimentation opens a portal into the perspective and dynamic between each of the family members. But as the film continues, the more it seems as though Lentzou is attempting to seek unnecessary, deeper meaning in the mundane and tragic. The issue with this constant insistence is prominently due to the lack of focus and depth throughout the film. The majority of the material featured is repeated like a broken record that merely creates a nuisance towards the viewer. This also includes the majority of the supporting cast. With the exception of one essential character, all of the scenes involving the supporting players add nothing of particular insight or amplification against the prominent theme of rekindling relationships.
But the most baffling aspect of the well-intentioned Moon, 66 Questions is the reveal that is constantly teased throughout the entirety of the film. The subtext which backs the supposed secret is so subtle to the point where the initial intention — that is meant to hold a significant amount of purpose and revelation against Artemis and her preconceived notions against her father — are undermined by a plethora of scattershot subplots. In the end, it only begs more questions regarding the film’s effectiveness, and if either Lentzou should have scrapped the entirety of this recurring motif all together. Some like myself have argued that the film is just as effective without this reveal and resolution; where the end goal is ultimately the same finale, but with a slightly different contextual background.
Regardless of how you interpret the original text, there’s an undeniably profound structural skeleton within the whirlwind of familiar disconnect throughout Moon, 66 Questions. It’s a film that more often than not lingers in its subdued pensivity of recollected events. At the core of it all, there is heart, there is emotional purity, and there is purpose. All that was needed at the end of the day was a major stylistic and narrative redraft that further expands upon Paris’ regrets and familiar past, with a more articulated focus.
Dir: Jacqueline Lentzou
Runtime: 108 minutes
Moon, 66 Questions premiered at this year’s 71st Berlinale as part of the Encounters program. The film is currently seeking international distribution.