Actors: Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong, Anton Lesser, Harry Lloyd
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Region: Region 1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2015
Run Time: 112 minutes
Despite being based on true events, Closer to the Moon takes a number of liberties within the narrative in order to attempt an explanation behind a crime which still remains a mystery. This also frees the filmmakers to adjust the tone of the narrative, so that moments are comedic where they could have been melodramatic. The story fits into the ‘unbelievable but true’ category which is always bait for cinematic adaptation, though Closer to the Moon left me feeling as though there wasn’t quite enough story for the amount of movie.
In 1959 there was an unexplained bank heist carried out in Communist Bucharest, notable for the pointlessness of this theft as well as the details behind it. The robbery was carried out by five high-ranking Jewish members of the Communist party, and they got away with it in broad daylight by pretending that the action was simply part of a film shoot. Closer to the Moon supposes that these thieves wanted to be like the movie stars that they were pretending to be, though they layer this with additional political activism, though the reality is that their true intentions were never discovered.
This is where the story gets really weird. As punishment for their crime, these bank robbers were sentenced to death, but not before they were forced to act in a propaganda film reenacting their crimes. Closer to the Moon shows this propaganda film shoot from the perspective of the young and idealistic cameraman, Virgil (Harry Lloyd). Although it seems that Romanian police officer Max Rosenthal (Max Strong) is the leader in the unlikely gang of friends and former members of the World War II Jewish Resistance, Virgil’s primary interaction is with the sole female, Alice (Vera Farmiga).
Some may find the comedy utilized in telling this story off-putting, but I am more disturbed by the fact that they didn’t take it even further. Director Nae Caranfil tries to approach the material with as many emotional turns as possible and please as many viewers as he can, but the effect is equally unimpressive across all genres. The comedy is not fully committed to and the drama feels oddly muted, regardless of how fascinating the actual story is. This is a film which is never quite bad, but also feels like a missed opportunity. It is typically a bad sign when the plot description of a film is the most entertaining thing about it.
The DVD includes a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 5/10