Eye For Film >> Movies >> Far Side Of The Moon (2003) Film Review
Far Side Of The Moon
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
Philippe has been hit hard by the death of his mother after a long and painful illness. It's not what the perpetual student - he is in his forties - needs when about to undertake a second attempt at defending his thesis. But his argument that space exploration was motivated primarily by a narcissistic drive - the same impulse that he sees in his younger, more successful brother Andre, a gay TV weatherman seemingly unconcerned with anything save the trivial - does not sit with the examiners, prompting Phillipe to contact a former cosmonaut as possible sponsor.
If the chief danger of translating work from stage to screen is producing canned theatre that fails to adequately use the distinctive features of the filmic medium, those of adapting your own work and taking the two lead roles are those of narcissism and dilettantism - especially when the above synopsis is likely to incur responses of "whatever", leaving as it does the viewer to make the connections between the brothers and their differing world views, focussing in particular on (shallow) surfaces versus (hidden) depths.
Hence, it's to French Canadian writer/director/actor Robert Lepage's immense credit that what could easily have become a self-indulgent mess emerges instead as an enjoyably quirky, thought provoking and, above all, thoroughly cinematic experience.
Not, however, that this is really news: Lepage's theatrical work has long evinced a strong multimedia component while his filmmaking debut, The Confessional, revealed a well developed cinematic sensibility.
Indeed, there's a lot of similarity between the two films, both shifting between past and present, using the power of editing to bridge time and space and trigger at times surrealistic and dream-like memories, and drawing on a solid knowledge of cinema history.
Whereas the relationship between The Confessional and Hitchcock's I Confess is immediately apparent - the making of the latter formed the backdrop to the former - Far Side Of The Moon remains rather more elusive. Nonetheless, one is reminded of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey at times, particularly when a washing machine door transforms into the porthole of a lunar module, an association that doesn't so much signify transcdence and the immanence of the next great leap forward, as with the famous match cut from the ape-man's bone to the spiralling space station, more how Phillipe remains fixated upon his childhood dreams but has, as yet, singularly failed to bring them to pass in actuality.
Worth a look if you're in the mood for something a little out of the ordinary.Reviewed on: 25 Aug 2004