Review by Sean Boelman
Jacqueline Lentzou’s feature debut Moon, 66 Questions is the type of film that is absolutely gorgeous to look at but isn’t the most compelling of a watch. Offering some great emotional moments but never having the overall impact it needs for its story to work, this debut is more effective as proof of its creator’s talent than a great film in its own right.
The film follows a young woman who reconnects with her father after she moves back home to care for him and starts to learn more about him along the way. Lentzou does deserve tremendous credit for preventing her film from falling into the melodramatic pratfalls for which the script is set up. What we get is something much more subtle, although not always more nuanced.
One of the issues with Lentzou’s film is that it feels bloated. That isn’t to say it goes on for too long as a whole, but there are a lot of individual scenes that feel stretched out. Even though Lentzou has a clear intention with the level of detail she puts into some of the interactions, it starts to become rather tedious after a while.
For the most part, the audience will likely be more invested in the protagonist than the relationship she has with her father, so it turns into a very different movie than one would expect, for better or worse. Still, those warring elements are there and Lentzou isn’t able to strike up a very satisfying balance between them.
Sofia Kokkali’s lead performance is arguably the main reason that anyone should watch this film. A significant majority of the story’s emotion has Kokkali to thank, as it is her compassionate turn that holds everything together. Of course, Lazaros Georgakopoulos deserves some credit too, but there is more weight on Kokkali’s shoulders.
The film also poses some interesting questions, even if it doesn’t answer them as clearly as it could. There are some themes explored throughout like familial trauma and forgiveness that definitely resonate, although a bit less distance in the father-daughter relationship would have helped this significantly.
Lentzou’s visual style is certainly very impressive too. The cinematography by Konstantinos Koukoulios is magnificent, even if Lentzou tends to let the beautiful compositions linger for a bit too long. And the use of simulated home video footage is an interesting artistic decision that creates an intriguing symbolic meaning.
There are a lot of individual elements that impress about Moon, 66 Questions, but these don’t come together into an exceptional whole. For now, we’ll have to be content knowing that whatever Jacqueline Lentzou makes next is likely to be a raging success.
Moon, 66 Questions is now screening as a part of the Berlinale Industry Event, running virtually from March 1-5, 2021.