Set, predominantly, in just one single location, we meet couple Fraya (Stephanie Leonidas) and Dean (Michael Maloney), who have retreated to the countryside, in favour of a more serene existence. Unwilling at first, the pair are set to welcome the latter’s oldest friends – and married couple – Grant (Ben Daniels) and Christine (Dervia Kirwan) over for the weekend. Having recently lost a child, the mentally scarred couple bring with them a host of suppressed emotions, as tensions mount and past conflicts come into play.
Where Luna excels is within the subtext, as the vast majority of emotions – particularly in the earlier stages – are told through piercing looks, pensive musings and vacant glimpses at one another. It becomes apparent from the offset that Grant and Christine have suffered an immense tragedy – and much credit must go to the performers for their sincere display of subtlety. Given this picture is an intimate, character driven drama, it’s vital all four actors shine – and while Leonidas isn’t quite as natural nor naturalistic as her co-stars, their exceptional turns ensure this not be a problem.
Where Luna may well prove to be divisive, is within the surreal, supernatural sequences; the daydreams of our bereaved protagonists. While the film is grounded by its intensely naturalistic moments, where the two couples engulf in conversation around the dinner table, that sadly does not prevent the more hypnagogic scenes from taking the viewer out of the moment. No doubt McKean would contest that the implementing of daydreams is integral to the story, and is what makes this picture unique, while offering us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the troubled mind of parents who have lost a child – but it’s simply too much of a struggle to see past its distracting tendencies.
Luna is an engrossing story that, at times is undone by its inclination for stylistic preferences, undermining the gravity of the narrative, and losing sight of what makes this picture so captivating. However when this film sticks more closely to reality, there is unlikely to be many dramas this year that can compel and move you quite in the same way as this – it’s just frustratingly inconsistent in its approach.