Written & Directed by Imogen Ross Starring Adam Soldo & Erik Mackintosh Short Film Review by Chris Olson
The coming-of-age genre is often filled with magical moments, not least because films depicting these stories have a central theme that is laced with pathos. Very often coming-of-age films are about the loss of innocence, the search for identity, sexual confusion, or the emotional turbulence of experiencing all of the above. Short film Luna, written and directed by Imogen Ross, is a slightly different take on the genre, expertly revealing the loneliness one can experience growing up. Set in a relatively quiet Australian suburb, Andy (Adam Soldo) and Matt (Erik Mackintosh) are introduced to the audience riding through the streets on their bikes, then rifling through a pair of bins in an alley. This set up immediately lets us know that these kids are not having the most typical of childhoods. Seemingly bereft of adult supervision, the pair are co-dependents of sorts. Matt, the older of the two, constantly chides Andy about his silly behaviour, playing practical jokes on him and making fun of his choices - such as wearing a ring. As the two navigate the mostly deserted streets, it becomes clear that the two boys are desperately vulnerable, and Matt's role as the "adult" is likely to lead the two towards disaster. I mentioned previously this idea of loneliness being a potent piece of Ross's short film, and that may seem strange given the fact that there are two central characters, who are together throughout. The feeling of loneliness seems to emanate from the nature of their relationship, rather than any specific discussion they have or feelings they reveal. Matt feels isolated as the protector of the group, feeling the weight of responsibility - such as when he attempts to steal a car. Whilst Andy seems to lack the guidance needed from a responsible adult, one who will nurture his innocence rather than make fun of it, and not lead him into the mistakes of doing wrong. This is then complemented with a lack of supporting characters. What is really interesting about Luna is that whilst the film appears to explore two characters who seems to have the utmost freedom in life, enjoying the spoils of a nomadic lifestyle, the reality is the complete opposite. Whilst riding their bicycles in a tiny alley, the viewer cannot help but feel the choking claustrophobia of lives limited by a lack of choices. Andy in particular seems to be stifled by his place in the world, glancing into the stars for inspiration, hoping something is up there. The performances are pretty solid, and it is the younger of the two (Soldo) who actually delivers the most convincing turn. Mackintosh is a little wooden at times, sticking to the lines a little too rigidly. That being said, both are enjoyable to watch, and their chemistry together is great. There is a fantastic score from Brent Rowley, which provides a beautiful, graceful accompaniment to the movie. It perfectly contrasts the restrictions that our protagonists face with an otherworldly feel, suggesting a limitless bounty that is always slightly out of their reach. Poignant and tonally insightful, Luna is a coming-of-age film that shines some light on the rarely explored topic of childhood loneliness.