Filled with melancholy and beauty, Moon Manor truly surprises. This wonderful yet heartbreaking film celebrates life; this is a brilliant little gem of a film.
On his last day alive, Jimmy (James Carrozo) will show his estranged brother, salt-of-the-earth caretaker, sharp-witted death doula, a novice obituary writer, a cosmic being, and the guests at his FUNeral that sometimes the art of living just may be the art of dying.
A film about a man planning on dying on his own terms due to his worsening Alzheimer’s is not exactly the type of film that you would expect to be as sweet and touching as Moon Manor turns out to be. But with such a strong concept as presented you can’t help but pulled in. Finding yourself for the majority of the film being further reeled in with the greatest of eases.
We have a lead character who is fully aware of the difficulties that he has had in his life but is more willing to view the positives, and if we all tried to do that, what a world we would live in. Moon Manor allows the audience, no matter their age, to think of those moments in their lives that they can smile back on. While also being aware of their fears of death, no matter how far up the road it is.
However, considering all of the positivity pushed in front of us throughout the film. We know how Moon Manor will end, and thus a melancholic sense of dread is omnipresent throughout. It is at this point that writer directors Machete Bang Bang and Erin Granat show some great restraint in the final act. As your heartstrings are pulled and they stick their landing, you can only applaud their work her. Leaving you wanting the film to the widest possible audience, it really does deserve it. The build to that finale is perfectly done as well; throughout we see how Jimmy feels about his life, but when we get to see how people view Jimmy and his impact on them, we feel it all deepen with us and emotionally connect even more.
The strongest aspect in Moon Manor, of course, has to be James Carrozo. You will be hard-pressed not to fall for him (especially considering some of the scripts is based on his real-life experiences). Having him so well fleshed out gives life to the film, you believe everything that has happened to him and as he ponders those moments, you buy it with ease. The little facial movements are what work so well, you understand this character, you may even know someone who is in a similiar situation and you wonder if they had Jimmy’s mindset, would they be thinking the same. His ability to have the audience gravitate towards him is vital to the film working.
Additionally, the rest of the cast fulfils their roles to great effect. All of them know their task and never allow us to be overly deterred from the end goal and point of the film. Considering how small a production Moon Manor is, it is no mean feat to accomplish this, especially when you consider the story that is trying to be told.
With that said, for a film just over 90 minutes, there is just a little too much going on with Jimmy bringing in more and more people into his final 24 hours. In addition, having so many narrative threads running simultaneously means that some are less fleshed out and come across as forced instead of being more natural than others. With more focus and time on the central threads, Moon Manor could have been even better. However that is not negate what has come before or after it. This is without a doubt a very good film that stays with you due to how effective it is. Small issues are easily forgiven when a film does everything so well here.
Moon Manor is a film that have you wanting to view things as positively as Jimmy does. We are presented with a beautifully done film. There is the chance that this will bypass you due to how small a production it is. With that said, if the movie pops up on your radar, watch it. You won’t be disappointed.
Moon Manor is available in theatres and On Demand now.
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