" It’s been 84 years and I can still smell the fresh paint "
— Gloria Stuart, Titanic

MRQE Top Critic

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

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Moon Shadow (Colpo Di Luna) is a humble little movie from first-time Italian director Alberto Simone. Although Moon Shadow never stirred me deeply, it told a simple, human story with charm and heart.

Moon Shadow is about a man whose life is changing. Lorenzo (Tchéky Karyo) is an astronomer whose specialty is black holes. Apparently his project was itself a black hole, because his backers have just cut his grant money. To make matters worse, a tree has just fallen on his country house and smashed a hole in the roof.

The movie opens on Lorenzo trying to get the roof fixed so he can sell the house and get back to town to restore his funding.

The only man in the small villa who can do the repair work is Salvatore (Nino Manfredi), and he moves at a slow, country pace. His two assistants are patients at the nearby mental institution — one says “they” watch him and force him to masturbate; the other swears he’s going to be a singer someday, and if not, he’ll work for Salvatore.

In the meantime, Lorenzo has time on his hands with nothing to do. He’s also at the mercy of Salvatore for transportation, so he winds up visiting the institution. The mentally ill intimidate him a little, as they would most of us, but he uses his willpower to subvert his fear. He meets a pretty woman who flirts with him, but who also scares him a little.

Lorenzo manages to teach the woman a few notes on the piano, and the doctors are amazed. Ordinarily she does not open herself to anyone, but apparently he has made friends with her.

Tchéky considers an invitation to stay in the villa & work with the patients at the hospital. His life has slowed down to a mundane pace, helped along by Salvatore and the patience that comes from dealing with the mentally ill. His dreams of black holes are fading, but can he ever really give them up?

The scale of this film is small. The characters are not heroic and the actors are not famous (at least to audiences in the U.S.A.). The central conflict is neither earth-shattering nor universal. Nevertheless, it is effective in its own small way.

For example, Karyo’s humble, awed performance is just right for his character who seems to be dealing with forces of nature. Also, the film acknowledges the volatility and social awkwardness of the mentally ill without condescension or condemnation. Finally, the pace of the movie perfectly fits Lorenzo’s changing life.

No, Moon Shadow didn’t move me to the core, but it is a nice, simple, ambling movie with a good heart. And often times, that’s enough.