Greek filmmaker Jacqueline Lentzou’s feature debut explores the boundaries of familial love through a woman’s journey caring for her ailing father.
“He’s like a child now.” With this context we’re introduced to Paris and Artemis, a father-daughter duo clearly estranged if not for the current circumstances. Artemis has just returned home in Greece to assume the role of parent, attentive to the needs of a recently incapacitated Paris.
We’re told in the opening credits of Moon, 66 Questions that the film is about “flow, movement, and love, and the lack of them.” It’s clear from the outset Artemis quietly yearns to regain what this specific relationship lacks, but doesn’t quite know how to get close to her father. He in turn doesn’t know either.
Director Jacqueline Lentzou fluently presents Artemis’ attempts at connection not through scenes involving verbal discussions but through silent moments in which Artemis performs physical movements meant to mimic those of her father’s. In this way we watch as Artemis becomes an extension of Paris. In one scene where Artemis tries on Paris’ glasses, Lentzou distorts the camera’s image as so, imploring us move around the room with increasingly blurred vision. In another clip, over the course of one hot afternoon Artemis drags herself on the floor using just her arms, experiencing what Paris might if he fell with no one around. And in one particularly moving sequence Artemis acts as her father would behind his bar, pouring herself a stiff drink and lighting a cigarette with shaky, abrupt movements. Lentzou keeps the camera focused on Artemis’ face as she slowly loses emotive control – eyes glistening in acknowledgment of her desperation.
The film is exceptionally paced in a way that simulates the slow healing process of a scarred relationship. Lentzou weaves scenes that capture day-to-day tedious and often painful exercises Paris endures with the help of Artemis, with flashes of old home movies over which Artemis recounts her dreams of late. The effect is a measured but productive revealing of oneself to the other – shared experiences of repeated exposure that over time inform a tender reunion.
Lentzou is a master in presenting powerful character studies with little use of dialogue. Sofia Kokkali is magnificent as Artemis – the soul of the film rests in the way her face can intensively articulate a barrage of emotions at once. The clearest expression of Lentzou’s cinematic prowess is the way she imagines the pair’s relational struggle through scenes in which they must together accomplish physical maneuvers designed to rehab Paris. “It’s like a dance,” Paris’ therapist reminds Artemis – one that Lentzou artfully employs to close the distance between father and daughter.
Doesn’t he care, if he can see? Artemis at one point voiceovers a collage of home videos. It’s only until the very end of the film that she truly sees him, understanding fully the immensity of his care – or more importantly just that’s its been there all along.