We review this film adaptation of an unbelievable ‘true story’…
Nae Caranfil and his cast find themselves in particularly fertile ground here with one of the most curious, moving and exciting true life stories I’ve seen on the screen in quite some time. Closer to the Moon tells of a group of intellectuals living in Romania under Communist rule who, having already defied the Germans previously, decide to give up their comfortable positions of influence in order to stick it to the state. How do they do it? Well they defy the doctrine of the day that theft is something only conceivable of in a capitalist state by stealing from the Romanian bank in broad daylight. How do they do it? By making the robbery look like a movie shoot so that all the passersby watch with admiration and excitement rather than raising the alarm. But if that isn’t an incredible enough heist the story gets far crazier when the culprits are caught and forced into recreating the robbery as actors for a real life film shoot which the authorities commission as a propaganda piece. Now that’s some story.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the film then, given its madcap plot, is how its director manages to make the whole thing digestible. It’s often funny, its exciting when it needs to be and the emotional side hits home when it needs to. This is a film in which, despite all the humour it generates, the prisoners are living under the threat of execution and consequently the film often has to shift back and forth between being a harmless comedy, a emotional drama, a pitch black piece of gallows humour and a history lesson. It isn’t always a smooth ride but it’s pretty impressive that it does as well as it does.
Cranfil’s skill at directing is further highlighted by the strong performances he brings out of his talented cast, in particular Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong and Harry Lloyd who all impress here and who significantly impact upon making the film the involving experience it winds up being. It’s a flawed film which is tonally uneven and struggles to really find the best way of telling its story at times, but it’s also entertaining, well acted and tells an interesting story. I would recommend to anybody who finds the story behind it intriguing, and it is that ‘true story’ element which in the end is perhaps most engaging. As the genuine propaganda film plays over the film’s closing credits it is a sobering reminder of those who fought against oppression and the ludicrous governments which opposed them.
Closer to the Moon is open in select UK cinemas now, are you planning on seeing it? Let us know in the box below!