Release Date: August 18th, 2006 (Village East Cinemas) by Indican Pictures.
The Cast: Lauren Van den Broeck, Hunter Bussemaker, Andrew Howard, Johan Leysen, Jemma Redgrave.
Directed by Paula van der Oest.
BASIC PREMISE: 13-year-old Claire (Van den Broeck) falls in love with a young, wounded Afghan drug courier (Bussemaker) who ends up in her backyard.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: While low on character development, Moonlight boasts a stand-out performance by Lauren Van den Broek as Claire. Claire and her parents live in a secluded house in the Belgian woods. Nearby, a man shoots a young boy who tries to escape from him. The boy, a drug courier, ends up hiding inside a shed in Claire’s backyard. Claire secretly tends his wounds and they develop a special romance even though they speak completely different languages. When the killer comes looking for the boy and tries to snatch him back, the plot quickly turns into an adventure. Claire takes the young boy through the woods and, luckily, they blend in with an all-girls Catholic retreat. Not surprisingly, some of the nuns get suspicious that the young boy doesn’t quite have feminine features. Director Paula van der Oest does a terrific job making this film beautiful to look at and absorbing. She manages to create an eerie atmosphere simply with beautiful, lush cinematography. Some scenes seem a bit shocking, such as a brief sex scene between the young lovers. Screenwriter Carel Donck makes the most out of the very little dialogue which she naturally alternates with many moments of silence. Unfortunately, the messy third act which goes over-the-top with contrived scenes that seem out-of-place and awkward. At least Lauren Van den Broeck’s performance resonates long after the film is over.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The unique bond between Claire and the boy has a few surprisingly tender and moving moments. There are some meaningful details to pay attention to such as the fact that both the boy and the girl bleed in different ways—the boy from his gunshot wound and the girl from her menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, the final scenes leave you with a bad aftertaste and slightly depressed rather than enlightened given Claire’s coming-of-age journey which she should have learned a lot from.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough character development and a messy, contrived third act.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
IN A NUTSHELL: Lauren Van den Broek delivers a breakthrough performance. Atmospheric and absorbing except for the over-the-top, unrewarding third act.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "M" Menu