Far Side of the Moon (2005)
A man pondering the unrecognized aspects of space travel has more than a few problems to contend with on Earth in this French Canadian drama. Phillippe (Robert Lepage) is "professional student" who lives with his ailing mother (Anne-Marie Cadieux) in a small, run-down apartment in Quebec. Phillippe has spent years working on his doctoral thesis, which looks at the philosophical and emotional consequences of the race into space between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1960s and '70s. Phillippe just barely supports himself as a telemarketer, his cold-calling has put him in touch with a former girlfriend who isn't especially happy to hear from him, and an attempt to discuss his research with a former Russian cosmonaut has near-disastrous results. Phillippe also has to put up with his younger brother André (also played by Lepage), a television weather announcer who has money, a small degree of fame, a handsome boyfriend, and almost no respect for Phillippe. As his mother's health takes a severe turn for the worst, Phillippe's luck seems to have changed at last when he's invited to Russia to discuss his recently published thesis on the space program, but André is not willing to help look after their mother. Far Side of the Moon (aka La Face Cachée de la Lune) was written, directed, and edited by leading man Lepage, who adapted the script from his own stage play. … More
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Critic Reviews for Far Side of the Moon
The film may be best appreciated by those who've seen the stage version.
Lepage is such an interesting camera subject, you stick with this dreamy rumination even when the going gets arch.
The Far Side of the Moon is a master class on turning a talky, one-man play into a visual delight.
As an actor, Lepage is a captivating presence, easily transforming from one sibling to the other. And as a director, he braids the personal and the universal with dexterity, turning theatrical intimacy into cinematic ecstasy.
It takes about 28 days for the moon to orbit the earth and approximately 60 minutes for Far Side of the Moon to reveal its full splendor.
Reworking his own raw material, Lepage spins a rich, moving film that acknowledges humanity's power to break out of Earth's daily gravity; in the process, he leaves audiences floating.
While the slow pace is a burden on some of what happens...,there is a beating pulse in "Far Side of the Moon." It's as wondrous as the imaginative tales we all read as kids.
Lepage maintains a leisurely pace and lets the narrative wander, but ultimately lands on the right side of the line between contemplative noodling and aimless navel-gazing, ending with an image that's simultaneously melancholy and playful.
In this gorgeous, high-definition DV drama, its stage roots are obscured by arresting images in this tale of outer space, sibling rivalry, and one man's struggle to find his destiny.
In essence, Lepage has remade 2001: A Space Odyssey without the Kubrick film's sense of spiritual curiosity.
Strikingly visual and thoughtfully moving, and also ponderous and pretentious.
Lepage's adaptation of his own stage play distills his typically grandiose ideas and visual quirks into a masterfully cohesive and entertaining film.
Audience Reviews for Far Side of the Moon
A creative concoction of science, social dysfunction and human persistence. Robert Lepage is simply incredible!More
[font=Century Gothic]With "Far Side of the Moon", writer-director Robert Lepage uses the story of brothers Phillippe and Andre(both played by Lepage) as a springboard to also explore the history of space flight(Phillippe is writing his thesis on this while working as a telemarketer). Then, he uses parallels between the two storylines as a jumping off point for a stylish portrait of humanity's potential. [/font]
[font=Century Gothic]The history of space flight provides an especially strong example. Space exploration started with huge potential with the Sputnik launch. Its high point is of course the landing of a man on the moon in 1969, followed by the Apollo-Soyuz mission of 1975, uniting two former adversaries but recently failures have outweighed achievements. Now, emphasis is on the potential for contacting extraterrestrials, a project that Phillippe has volunteered to help with. [/font]
Nope, I haven't seen the original stage play. This is the second Lepage film I have seen in my life, and I believe the themes that are explored are very similar to the ones in Le Confessional : except in that other film, broken family dynamics were explored with much more swing, and the result was frankly a lot more compelling.
Visually, this is clever and enticing work, as Lepage uses recurring imagery (the moon, a goldfish, television screens, washing machines) as Phillippe revisits his past and present. Special effects are both subtle and astonishing, and the camera gets up close to capture hidden recesses of emotion within the characters. Filmed with a small budget, La Face CachÃ©e de la Lune still manages to dazzle. And yet... it's a bit annoying that the film doesn't grab hold more effectively, because artistically it is a real achievement. Lepage constructs films fluidly, dissolving between scenes in almost imperceptible ways that are clever and extremely skillful while touching on deep themes.
As an actor, Lepage is fine enough, but he can only command our attention onscreen for so long, so I found myself holding on to supporting performers for any narrative interest. Needless to say, he is at the very center of the project, so characters besides Philippe and Andre are not given a lot of screentime. I understand the brothers occupy the core of the drama, but I personally found them uninteresting, and their dialogue sometimes feels forced.
I wanted to fall in love with this one as it obtained even more international recognition than Le Confessional, but alas, I was not swept away at all. I appreciated it, but... that's about it.
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