Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Insatiable Moon: Review

The Insatiable Moon, opened proceedings at the Stoke Your Fires film festival this month.
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.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Marchlands: Three Families one Ghost

Marchlands follows the familiar premise of mysterious ghost child who becomes living child’s ‘imaginary friend’. Worried, disbelieving, parents attempt to put a stop to the relationship, and poltergeist activity ensues. Ideas like this are re-hashed all the time. The question is does Marchlands do this with any creative innovation?

Well it juggles quite smoothly between three families living in the same house but in different periods of history. One from the 1960s, who’ve lost their daughter, Alice, in mysterious circumstances. One from the 1980s, who are haunted by the ghost of Alice. And one from 2010, a couple with a baby on the way, who are soon to discover that the nursery they are decorating for their new child once belonged to the dead Alice.

As a viewer you are essentially presented with the start of a game on a Cluedo board, you begin knowing nothing and along the way begin to collect obvious clues as to the who the where and the how of the mystery of the little girl’s death. Marchlands is essentially a murder mystery with ghosts and that’s what will keep you watching, the anticipation of the reveal over the coming five episodes.

The 1960s and the 2010 family (in the first episode at least) have more intriguing storylines. The characters are dark and it is not clear whether they can all be trusted. The isolation of the two central female characters from these periods is particularly poignant. In fact, this is an example of real-life horror being equal to if not more threatening than supernatural horror.

1960s Ruth Bowen (Jodie Whittaker), whose daughter, Alice, has seemingly drowned, is battling against a family that won’t acknowledge the mysterious circumstances of her death. What is foreboding is the idea that there may be ulterior motives at play, which the drama subtly encourages. Similarly, 2010s Nisha Parekh (Shelley Conn) has been brought to the house by her husband Mark Ashburn (Elliot Cowan), who wants to move back to his old neighbourhood. Nisha becomes suspicious when Mark uses sign language to a lady across the street and she later questions him about it. This enriches the mystery further and combined with Nisha’s vulnerability as a pregnant lady, adds to the tension.

Don’t worry though, this Thursday night drama is unlikely to give you nightmares. Mid-week audiences have clearly been considered and in that sense Marchlands skilfully executes shocking scenes whilst remaining unimposing. The horror scenes are clichéd. Perhaps this was deliberate so that the audience can enjoy the feeling of shivers down their spine whilst still feeling safe with the familiar supernatural scenes.

If you enjoy a mid-week drama that is not too heavy to watch then Marchlands is worth viewing. If you prefer to be terrorised by the supernatural on screen it’s best to treat it as a simple mystery to be unravelled and hope for a good twist at the end to make it all worthwhile. Upon viewing the first episode Marchlands has really been done before. Try watching it on your own with the lights off for maximum impact.

Marchlands: Three Families One Ghost

Marchlands: Three Families One Ghost

Link to my review of Marchlands on ATV Today!

Please give it a read!