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British Film Review: Luna
Directed By Dave McKean
Integrating reality and fantasy is a tricky proposition. The results (from Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s magical realism to Sam Raimi’s hyper-reality) invariably swing one way or the other; there are few films in which they sit comfortably side by side, yet this is what director Dave Mckean attempts to do with Luna.
Grant and Christine are grieving over the loss of their child; Fraya and Dean invite them to stay for a long weekend, in their remote house by the sea. Once there, simmering tensions and recent trauma attract the attention of the supernatural.
Mckean’s background in comics shows in his feel for dialogue and visuals. The script gives his characters a historical layer which hangs between them. The faces are well chosen: Dervla Kirwan drifts into other worlds at dinner; Ben Daniel’s sharp-featured intellectual challenges his hosts to a drunken duel; Michael Maloney hides within his art; Stephanie Leonidas hides in oversized knitwear (looking very French). The fantasy sequences (haunting and unsettling) work well to paint the semi-dream netherworld which the grieving couple inhabit.
The supernatural is neither acknowledged, nor dismissed. As Dean explains (in the curiously didactic four minute trailer) reality and fantasy do co-exist. The problem (if any) is that Luna lacks central narrative drive, which could have propelled it into the realm of Pan’s Labyrinth (though Pan does make an appearance). Yet the director’s intention is more to open a dialogue with the subconscious. The weighty subject matter is intelligently treated, and the tone is meditative, rather than dark.
At the outset you’re told the film is ‘designed’ (and not directed), which is followed by an animated prologue, and it’s difficult to shake the feeling you’re watching an elaborate art project, rather than a story. But even then, the experience is never dull, and frequently a visual feast.
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