A Trip to the Moon

 

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A child's world is portrayed in a most unusual way but one that never won me over.

 
Trip to the Moon

 

The problem that I had with this film from Argentina could not be more basic. It was not just that I had difficulty in getting on its wavelength but that I couldn't even decide what its wavelength is. Both who it was aimed at and what the writer/director, Joaquin Cambre making his first feature, was trying to achieve remain for me a total mystery. It might be thought that the film's title itself gives us a clue being identical with that of Georges Méliès's classic work of 1902 but, while Cambre (writing here with Laura Farhi) is creating both a fantasy of his own and a homage to Méliès, that does not get us very far.

 

Initially everything seems straightforward. At the centre of A Trip to the Moon is a bespectacled kid aged fourteen or so, Tomás played by Angelo Mutti Spinetta. He lives at home with his parents, Anibal and Susi (Germán Palacios and Leticia Brédice) and his two siblings, his older sister Juliana (Micaela Amaro) and his young brother Coco (Tiziano Duarte). Susi calls Tomás 'the king' and yet there is little feeling of real warmth here and, furthermore, she disapproves strongly of his best friend Checho (Luca Tedesco). Tomás seeks refuge in watching the moon through a telescope and fantasising about landing on it while also daydreaming about the girl, Iris (Angela Torres), who lives opposite him.

 

At first this film suggests a work created for young children since that is the mood set by the music score, but then one learns that Tomás is plagued by nightmares linked to a violent accident in which at the age of four he was involved in a car accident and it also turns out the he is sufficiently unstable to be seeing a psychiatrist (Luis Machin) regularly. So does this mean that Cambre's piece is the filmic equivalent of those novels written these days for young adults and not afraid to touch on subject matter once outside children's literature? Well, possibly, because Juliana is caught having sex with her boyfriend in the kitchen.

 

However, A Trip to the Moon then develops into a tale of how Tomás's room is converted into a space craft which appears simultaneously to stay rooted in the city but also to take the family into space. This work has been described as an example of magical realism, but its fantasy feels stupid rather than engaging. The telescope introduces a voyeuristic theme (one even thinks of such movies as 1988's A Short Film About Love and 1989's Monsieur Hire) and in some half-comic way the imagined flight to the moon becomes a stylised but rather daft comment on growing up and jettisoning your parents in the process. But, if that sounds capable of being an interesting oddity, in fact the film's mixture of the realistic and the fantastical never engages. Instead of being caught up by it, we watch A Trip to the Moon in total disbelief, a fact only encouraged by the attempt at a philosophical statement about life offered by Tomás at the outset and then  repeated at the close to emphasis its importance. The cast are certainly not inept - young Angelo Mutti Spinetta in particular - but as for the film, I simply did not buy it.

 

Original title: Un viaje a la una.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Germán Palacios, Leticia Brédice, Angelo Mutti Spinetta, Angela Torres, Luis Machin, Luca Tedesco, Tiziano Duarte, Micaela Amaro.

 

Dir Joaquin Cambre, Pro Diego Peskins and Joaquin Cambre, Screenplay Laura Farhi and Joaquin Cambre, Ph Nicolás Trovato, Art Dir Alejandra Isler, Ed Nicolás Goldbart, Music Emilio Haro and Gabriel Barredo, Costumes Greta Ure and Paula Blanchini.

 
Cine Argentino/INCAA - Instituto nacional de cine y artes audiovisuales/Cinetren/Virgen-Network Releasing.
87 mins. Argentina/Mexico. 2017. Rel: 22 March 2019. Cert. 12A.