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Monday, 4 May 2015

De' Lune (2013)

Director: Austin Moede
Stars: Nathan Rehm and Michelle Irei
This film was an official selection at the Phoenix Film Festival in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
I couldn't help but like De' Lune, even if its ambition surely exceeds its merit. It seems to follow Matthew Stiengrad, a young and dedicated pianist whose overt musical talent compensates for an apparent lack of social skills. When he has a keyboard in front of him, he immerses himself in his playing to the point of losing himself; when he doesn't, like his periodic trips to a quiet bench in the park, his eyes are shut and his fingers are moving just as if he was indeed back in front of those eighty-eight keys. And even though we follow Matthew to find a girl, or rather for the girl to find him, this really isn't about him at all. It's not about her either, a girl called Claire who enjoyed a piano recital he recently gave at the local community college and has a whole bundle of astute questions to ask him. It's all about the music, which makes it a simple but effective piece that merely doesn't go where we might expect it to go. Sure, it could be called drama and the sequel could be a romance, but really this is just an exploration of music.

And here's where it shines. The acting is clearly not the film's strongest point, with Nathan Rehm maybe a little stiffer than he should be as a distracted pianist and Michelle Irei decent vocally but unable to stop grinning her way through the film. To steal one of Matthew's key lines of dialogue: 'It's not about them.' It's all about the music and how it has the power to stimulate our brains into generating connections that transport us. Austin Moede, the writer and director, takes us along with Matthew to a set of these places in montages that are well done and would have been visually striking if only Vermillion hadn't played a single film earlier on in the very same set. Even Kitchen Sink Films can't send their drone up far enough to capture the majesty of creation in the form of stars gliding through the cosmos. Claire asks Matthew, 'What goes on when you play?' This film goes a little way into visualising the answer. It's merely a brief snapshot rather than an exhaustive answer, but it's a fun enough few minutes while it runs.

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