If there was a marketing blurb for The Moment that could sell its strengths, it would probably say something like “Christopher Nolan’s Memento meets Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up.”
That’s really the best possible scenario for the film and this material. There’s memory loss, memory reconstruction, photography, psychology, possible murder, and some complicated relationships to sort through.
But the actual movie The Moment is not the best execution of this material by a long shot.
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Director: Jane Weinstock
Release Date: TBD
The whole set-up for The Moment has promise. Lee (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a war photographer suffering from PTSD-induced memory loss who is trying to figure out whether or not she murdered her boyfriend John (Martin Henderson). She’s checked into some sort of mental health clinic after a breakdown at a gallery show, and one of her fellow patients named Peter looks just like her ex-boyfriend but without the facial hair. In Lee’s mind, little catches of memory blend with wish fulfillment until the complicated facts of that night are revealed.
A lot of the reason The Moment never works has to do with a lack of focus in the writing and direction. In more capable hands than Jane Weinstock’s (e.g., Hitchcock, Nolan), the film could have really left a lasting impression. As it is now, there’s no tautness or suspense in The Moment, which robs all of the weirdness and mystery of any sense of weirdness and mystery. Lee never makes anything out of Peter’s similarities to John for some reason, and so the tension of this double-casting is never explored. This missed opportunity is especially egregious when Lee’s daughter (Alia Shawkat) comes to visit. Even when probing Lee’s memory for answers, it feels like a simple therapy session rather than something with big stakes.
But apart from a lack of suspense, there’s also a misguided attempt to expand the scope of the story and make it seem exotic and international. There are flashbacks to a violent incident in Mogadishu that caused Lee to experience mental health problems. Unfortunately the film’s version of Mogadishu looks sparsely populated, sterile, and obviously fake — less like Somalia and more like a crummy area outside of El Cajon. There’s also another international locale created in the film that looks just like fake-Mogadishu even though the sets and costumes are different.