You know that feeling when responsibilities and expectations press down on you, not allowing you room to breathe, task building upon additional task, each one yet another brick reinforcing your containment? There comes a point when, understandably so, you begin losing your mind. Such is the situation Artemis (Sofia Kokkali) finds herself in when she returns to Athens to take care of her father, Paris (Lazaros Georgakopoulos). Paris is suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Director Jacqueline Lentzou brilliantly captures the often-fraught relationship between daughter and father in Moon, 66 Questions. We can gather that tensions between Artemis and Paris have festered over time. Artemis’ mother is distant and no longer a couple to her father. Artemis’ family members assume that she, the only adult daughter Paris has, must be the one to undertake the role of live-in caretaker. And so, she does. She realizes that her young adulthood has reached a point of fracture. But what can she do? Someone must take care of her ailing father. Not surprisingly, Artemis’ mental health begins to unravel.
Lentzou both directed and wrote Moon, 66 Questions. She adeptly integrates the narrative’s themes into her visuals. For instance, bodies are on display everywhere in Moon, 66 Questions. Bodies in flowing motion are contrasted against a body struggling to stand upright and take a step forward. We see legs exercising underwater, Artemis running on a treadmill, dancing, basketball players sprinting up and down a court on television, all the while Paris cannot bring enough control to his limbs so as to do the most basic of tasks. Life can be mercilessly cruel.
Kokkali’s performance is outstanding. Her face communicates resignation, a look that conveys, “OK, this is my life now.” Georgakopoulos, for his part, displays a rather impressive range. At times he is lucid, at other times distant, his voice and thoughts trapped by a debilitating disease. If there is a minor quibble with Moon, it involves the somewhat confusing visual of tarot cards used in several scenes throughout the film. These visuals could have been omitted without hurting the film in any way.
But again, I must emphasize, minor quibble. Overall, the universal themes conveyed by Moon elevate the film. The sense of duty—oftentimes unfairly forced upon women instead of men—to play the role of caretaker for a parent is a dilemma spanning the globe. We feel for Artemis. We, as much as she, know that her young adulthood is over. She is trapped. Then again, one’s heart breaks seeing how disease has trapped Paris. In the end, we come to a sobering realization: both culture and our own bodies impose limitations upon our freedom. Such is the human condition.
Moon, 66 Questions hits cinemas nationwide on 24th June.
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