Friday, June 6, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Moment

The Moment
Directed by Jane Weinstock
Released June 6, 2014

It’s not easy to identify just one moment in a film that really defines it. In some cases, one scene can stand out and serve as its most memorable part, but that is not always the case. With “The Moment,” the title has a double meaning. Lee (Jennifer Jason Leigh) spends her life taking pictures, capturing the feeling and depth of the single second in which her camera clicks. Real life, however, is not as tangible, and Lee’s ability to remember events clearly after a post-war injury proves unreliable, and she torments herself trying to piece together what happened the last time she saw her boyfriend John (Martin Henderson).

Lee is introduced coming over to John’s home looking for the cameras that she left there and frustrated that he has not been returning her calls. When she enters his house, it becomes readily apparent that he has not been there for days. Filing a police report proves unproductive, and Lee must meanwhile put on a good face for her photography show, where she sees her civil ex-husband, Malik (Navid Negahban) and estranged daughter Jessie (Alia Shawkat). A panic-induced meltdown lands her in a psychiatric hospital, where she works with a doctor to figure out what really happened to John and concurrently meets another patient, Peter, who looks exactly like John.

Lest it seem that this is the fourth of this year’s films about a man who looks exactly like someone else – following “The Face of Love,” “Enemy,” and “The Double” – it should be pointed out that this is not meant to be presented like that here. The fact that John looks identical to Peter (they are both portrayed by Henderson, albeit with different facial hairstyles) is a sign of Lee’s own inability to trust what she knows rather than the prelude to some dramatic conspiracy finish. The secrets John has are a far less supernatural and more ordinary, though certainly disturbing, variety.

Leigh, who has been working relatively consistently in supporting roles throughout the past decade of her career, delivers a dedicated performance as Lee, fluctuating between doubt and certainty every moment and wearing all of her emotion in her eyes and face. Henderson presents two bland but charming individuals for Lee to fixate on, remarkably different from each other yet each equally appealing. Shawkat, in her typical role as a sarcasm-heavy, angst-ridden young adult, proves a good fit to play Jessie, providing much of the film’s energy but also helping to keep it grounded in disgruntled reality. Compared with something like “War Story,” another take on the aftereffects of military tragedy on a war photographer, this is an engaging if not entirely groundbreaking film with an unexpected and mostly interesting plot direction.


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