By Mónica Delgado
Greek filmmaker Jacqueline Lentzou marks her feature debut with Moon, 66 Questions. As in her previous short films, especially in Hector Malot: The Last Day of the Year (2018) or The End of Suffering (2020), here we have a young protagonist solving everyday issues, and her problems, with a touch of fable. In this first work, Lentzou also resorts to a strange and dreamlike atmosphere, or to that “Greek touch” in some moments with the direction of actors and actresses, moving between the histrionic and stylized, a style filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari patented in her works about women.
Presented within the Encounters section of the recent Berlin International Film Festival, Moon, 66 Questions is a film that portrays a character, or rather shows how a filmmaker is passionate enough to give a materiality to a fictional entity, through the figure of Sofia Kokkali, a splendid actress who has fallen into the right hands (and eyes). Kokkali plays Artemis, a young woman who above all refers to the Greek divinity who embodies the relief and cure of disease: the goddess of hunting, maidens and virgin territories. Within this mythical ancestry, condensed in her name, she returns to her parental home in Athens after a long time, but now subjected to an emergency situation: her father Paris (name that refers to the mythological antihero) has suffered a neurological collapse and now is fully depending on her nursing care and attention. The filial distance is gradually dissolving, but this process is shown by Lentzou as a very physical approach, which is confronted and found: a father with a disability, with few and difficult movements, while the daughter enters into catharsis at a slow pace, of an urban song.
The tone Lentzou chooses has multiple layers and elements. A staging that resorts to the evidence of the present, with the protagonist trying to be immersed in this new bond with the father, and then scenes from a video recorder or viewings of some VHS, made in the nineties, that refer to recordings made by the father which the protagonist recovers as a poetic memory or reconciliation with a father figure at an unknown angle. Also, Lentzou appeals to the revelation of the interiority of his character, with inserts of dreams of psychedelic touches, his voice-over reading a personal diary, or when showing it in epic or dramatic monologues, before the need for mimesis (to become another to avoid a reality that is moving). Or, she appeals to the chapters, through references to tarot cards that show progress or particularities in this love story between daughter and father.
The film opens with a subtitle that reveals the meaning and form of the treatment: “a film about love, movement, flow (and the lack of them)”, since first of all Moon, 66 Questions is a work about the expression and forms of communication, and how a father and daughter solve these problems (with a plot twist included). The camera is often very close to Kokkali’s face, it is on the lookout for her gestures, the feelings that emerge in discreet smiles or complaints (such as when she meets her mother, who appears out of the field ).
Although at times the need to show the father in his physical difficulties (the inevitable melodramatic touch) feels heavy (or too explicit), in the end Jacqueline Lentzou comes out very well in this film with echoes of a coming of age film (the actress is not a teenager, but she retains a lot the idea of learning and rebellion of those ages): a portrait sustained in Kokkali’s wonderful performance, in her body, her expression, her gestures, her restraint.
Director: Jacqueline Lentzou
Screenwriter: Jacqueline Lentzou
Photography: Konstantinos Koukoulios
Costume Design: Eva Goulakou
Art Direction: Stavros Liokalos
Publisher: Smaro Papaevangelou
Sound Design: Dimitris Kanellopoulos, Leandros Ntounis, Julien Perez
Producers: Fenia Cossovitsa
Production: Blonde S.A., Luxbox
Co-production: Luxbox, Greek Film Center, Center du Cinéma, ERT
Greece, France, 2021, 108 min