TIFF 2014: Luna Review
Artists are often asked where they get their ideas, and in truth inspiration can come from the most unexpected of places. After a friend’s personal tragedy, artist Dave McKean found himself fixated and inspired by a comment that was made. He heard the grieving process described as like entering another world – one day everything is normal and routine, and then after one change all is irreparably different. Grief can often be so powerful, so tangible that it is all-consuming. Such an idea gnawed at McKean for years until, through the mediums of art and film, he was able to bring that vision to life in Luna.
The film begins with a simple enough premise – the reuniting of old friends. Middle-aged Dean and his young girlfriend Freya host Dean’s art school mates Grant and Christine at their remote country home. What follows however is an intricate dance of old hurts, recent pain, and things left unsaid. Still reeling from the loss of their child, Grant and Christine are closed off tight, resenting Dean and his seemingly carefree life. But over the course of their stay the world around them seems to shift between reality and dream, allowing for real truth and catharsis to break through.
McKean’s trademark visual style is brought to life in a breathtaking fashion. Magical realism has never been so vivid as art literally leaps off the page and immerses the protagonists in an alien world. It is a sumptuous experience, a beautiful marriage of animation and acting. McKean’s cast was deftly chosen, with special kudos to his new muse, Stephanie Leonidas (best known from McKean’s previous work MirrorMask). The sense of history, estrangement and longing is palpable through every world spoken and unspoken.
Intimate and raw, Luna explores the lines we draw between reality and our fantasy lives. The argument is made that fantasy can be a tool of self-preservation, but also of self-deception. We each hold within ourselves a narrative of our lives, and what constitutes the Truth of the narrative is only a fleeting idea. Two people can hold a conversation (or have an argument), and an hour later have entirely different remembrances of how it transpired. It is around these flawed remembrances that we shape our ideas of Self. By cocooning ourselves in this constructed Self we can cut off those around us and lapse even further into fantasy to our detriment. True freedom only comes from real honesty.