There have been many imitators of Terence Malick. Exponentially more than the scant seven films he has directed in his 40 year career. David Gordon Green, Shane Caruth, Andrew Dominick, and David Lowery (Caruth’s former editor) are a handful of the auteurs considered to be his possible heir. It has been a gift to some filmmakers but others have remained yoked to his legend. Malick has become a mentor to a few of the young directors and has even lent his name as producer to some of the projects. Among them all, the closest to come to Malick’s gossamer style of filmmaking is A.J. Edwards (Malick’s own editor) whose “The Better Angels” gave insight into the childhood of Abraham Lincoln and his siblings as they tread lightly around their mercurial father. If Imogen Ross, the director of the Australian short drama “Luna” wants, she could someday be in the same class as those other filmmakers.
Similar to “The Better Angels”, Ross uses her poetic camerawork to follow a young boy trying to find his way in the world. Andrew (Adam Soldo) and his older brother Matt (Erik Mackintosh) wander through a desperate, urban landscape. They rummage through trash and steal to survive. Matt is resentful for having to care for his younger brother and consistently reminds him of the burden. Andrew is introspective, curious, and sweet natured. Through its brief 10 minute running time, Ross employs excellent use of elliptical editing, dreamy cinematography, and understated performances. We feel the trauma that has led the two brothers to be fending for themselves without cumbersome exposition or explanation. We feel the friction and animosity bubbling just beneath the surface that will split these two apart.
“Luna” is a heartbreakingly beautiful film. Bleak in its outlook but warm in the moments it shows. The brothers each standing for a separate point of view about the world. One pessimistic, cynical, and caustic. The other battling against that.