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Argentinian director and co-writer Joaquín Cambre has created an example of that perennially tiresome genre, the quirky-bittersweet coming-of-ager (not a remake of the French silent classic). It indulges its young hero’s maudlin escapist fantasies by making us live inside them for a long stretch at the end, when we discover that this central trope is anti-climactic and doesn’t work dramatically in connection with the real world.
Tomas (Angelo Mutti Spinetta) is a lonely and unhappy teen in Argentina, obsessed with space travel and plagued with delusional fantasies about going to the moon, all triggered by a traumatic episode in his early childhood. He is not taking the medication prescribed by his psychiatrist and with the exception of a sweet little brother, his family life (hectoring mother, uncaring father, cynical older sister) is oppressive. Then he befriends Iris (Ángela Torres), a punky older teenage girl in the neighbouring apartment with a bullying, shallow boyfriend; she finds her own escape in this tender relationship with sensitive Tomas.
It’s a Manic Pixie-type male fantasy that is about as credible as rocketless space travel. The film looks good, especially in its bright, cleanly lit opening scenes as Tomas whizzes aimlessly around an empty swimming pool on his bike. (These moments reminded me a little of Kleber Mendonça Filho’s film Neighbouring Sounds.) But the rest of the drama, leading to the elaborate but pointless fantasy sequence, has something self-defeating about it: a pyrrhic victory for style over substance. The resolution, in which we find out exactly what happened in his childhood, is glib and unearned, and the performance of Spinetta in the lead is self-conscious and blank, like a child in a TV commercial for breakfast cereal.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: A Trip to the Moon review – teen drama crash-lands in a sea of treacle | Film