A celestial film bogged down in deep thoughts
By Noah Fowle
In its attempt to pose great questions regarding mans place in the universe, the French Canadian film The Far Side of the Moon manages far less than its lofty aspirations. Originally a play, the films auteur Robert Lapage does triple duty directing the film and playing the pair of brothers at the storys core. Unfortunately, his dedication to the material comes off as self-satisfied and he does little more than dance around his themes and characters. One can only offer bland sympathy for the protagonist while attempting to wade through overwritten existential generalizations that bog the rest of the film down.
Phillippe (Lapage) is struggling with the recent death of his mother and the long-term effects of continually failing to defend his thesis on space exploration. While he wallows in his grief and academic mediocrity, his younger, more flamboyant brother Andre (Lapage) enjoys a padded lifestyle as the local meteorologist. Phillippe is too obviously bitter of Andres success, and Andre is bored of his brothers self-defeatist attitude. Still, the two are kept apart through most of the film and their interactions, which attempt to establish a back story, are forced and obtrusive. Finally, a bizarre contest and a last chance to find acceptance for Phillippes dissertation present an opportunity for the brothers to reconcile, but Lapage fails include the audience in what is at stake for either character.
While there maybe a humanizing story at the heart of the film, it is played out in bland, un-cinematic tones. Looking for an edge or the smallest semblance of one, a few instances of drug use are thrown in but come across as vapid and lack any insight into the brothers or their looming relationship with their mother (Anne-Marie Cadieux). She utters only a handful of words in the films flashbacks and operates about as effectively as the films flat style. Halfway through the film, Phillip asks How do you reconcile the infinitely banal from the infinitely essential? It seems as though Lapage has come no closer to the answering that question by taking his play from the stage to the screen.