Adapted from the novel of the same name, by Mike Riddell, The Insatiable Moon was set and filmed in New Zealand. It tells the story of Arthur (Rawiri Paratene) who believes he is the second Son of God. When his home, a ‘care in the community’ hostel, comes under threat of closure, Arthur believes his divine powers and belief in God can save him and the other mentally ill residents from being thrown out.
The opening ten minutes of the film is an onslaught on the senses. With Maori influences within the soundtrack and unembellished images of New Zealand with raw diegetic sound, you are instantly transported across the globe to the suburbs of Aukland.
Whilst I was firm in the knowledge of the location, the plot had me wondering just quite where I was to begin with. Jumping between life at the hostel and the private life of Margaret (Sara Wiseman), a care worker who embarks on an affair with Arthur, it was difficult to distinguish what to keep track of.
However, as the plot started to move in a clear direction I began to really care for the characters. The hostel residents and Bob (Greg Johnson), who runs the home, were the backbone that the film needed to stand on its own two feet. Strong, solid performances were given and the film managed to execute some hilarious dialogue, which was sharp and witty throughout, without loosing the gritty realism of the environment, the characters, and their plight.
My suspension of disbelief was tested on occasion, however, where Arthur and Margaret’s affair was concerned. To have an ‘everywoman’ fall for a mentally ill man who believes he is the second Son of God is a testimony to the originality of the film. However, there was little development within their relationship before they slept together (in a room draped in sheets for romantic effect) and I couldn't help but feel bemused by the fact that they were supposed to love each other but still seemed like relative strangers.
Having said that, the relationship boldly and effectively subverts the clichéd Hollywood romances that audiences are familiar with; and viewers will be forced to shine the spotlight on their own reactions to this unlikely relationship. I’m still not sure if my discontent with this improbable affair was due to having been drip-fed unattainable romances between good-looking heroes and heroines all my life or whether they just lacked chemistry?
Overall, The Insatiable Moon tackles some strong issues surrounding reaction to mental illness, paedophilia, love, and faith in God. It is a quirky, funny, and original appropriation of the story of the resurrection - Atheists don’t let that put you off! There is of course the added appeal of effectively stepping into New Zealand for two hours, which thoroughly added to my enjoyment.
The Insatiable Moon will be released at Empire, Leicester Square on 4th March, go along to support independent film making.