Film Comment Recommends: Moon, 66 Questions
This article appeared in the July 7, 2022 edition of The Film Comment Letter, our free weekly newsletter featuring original film criticism and writing. Sign up for the Letter here.
Moon, 66 Questions (Jacqueline Lentzou, 2022)
A study of mutual trust, Moon, 66 Questions calls itself “a film by Jacqueline Lentzou with Sofia Kokkali,” announcing this director-actor partnership as a package deal. Rightly so: as suggested by the acclaimed shorts Hector Malot: The Last Day of the Year and The End of Suffering (A Proposal), and now affirmed in their collaborative feature debut, the duo’s rapport feels almost telepathic.
Returning to Athens after some time away, twentysomething Artemis (Kokkali) finds her father, Paris (Lazaros Georgakopoulos), afflicted by multiple sclerosis. In spite of the estrangement that’s already their status quo, it’s she who’s left to look after him. “You’ll figure it out,” a physical therapist says as Artemis struggles to hold Paris upright. “It’s like dancing.” Moon, 66 Questions displays a patient faith in that idea, putting Artemis through the paces of banal domestic chores, like hosing off the car or unfolding fitted sheets, as she devises a choreography of catharsis.
The film thrives on the emotional weather systems that form when a grown child revisits an empty nest. It’s not just the new frontier of their relationship that Artemis and Paris must learn to navigate, sussing out the distinctions between physical incapacity and temperamental truculence, but also old hurtful habits and familiar (but now untenable) roles. Aptly, the climax is an epiphany of compassion and quiet determination: Artemis holds her own in an isolating static frame until, with visible effort, her father makes his way toward her, close enough at last for a real embrace.
Jonathan Kiefer is a writer and filmmaker based in Northern California.