Films about obsession usually start in the before, the halcyon days of family and friends and home. A little background that helps explain the protagonist’s turn once it’s all shattered. Not in Moka, the new film by Frédéric Mermoud and adapted from the eponymous novel by Tatiana de Rosnay. We enter this one at full tilt with Diane Kramer (Emmanuelle Devos), a woman already consumed.
Within the first ten minutes of The Bad Batch, her social critique by way of apocalyptic fantasia, our protagonist Arlen loses both an arm and a leg to a desert-dwelling band of cannibal bodybuilders.
She and Dante took a flat in Chatham. They weren’t married. She could never invite her sister for a visit. When Dante’s family paid a call, she hid in the bedroom. Even Dante’s friends were ignorant of their living arrangement.
It’s a testament to Farhadi’s skill as a storyteller that he keeps shifting our sympathies. In the best traditions of the thriller, we get caught up in Emad’s quest for revenge despite what it does to his soul.
There really couldn’t be any simpler film than Moonlight – a young man named Chiron comes of age in a poor section of Miami. Yet, to signal just how perceptive and multilayered this film will be, director Barry Jenkins opens with a power move: an extended long take in which the camera never sits still, circling the actors like an anxious lion. It’s an amazing display of bravura directing, made even more potent when echoed later in the film at a crucial plot point. But it’s also Jenkins’s wake-up clap to the audience. For despite the film’s low-key tone, aided by such impressive, just downright beautiful camerawork, Moonlight is a revelation of nuanced characters and plot and exposition.