'Moonlight' is (so far) the only movie I've ever seen that was shot in Luxembourg, but I fervently hope it's not a typical example of Luxembourgeoise cinema. This movie is a lot more arty-tarty than it needs to be. For starters, the title is nearly irrelevant: some of the action takes place in a house named Mondschein ('moonlight'), but that name is completely arbitrary and unrelated to the plot.
SPOILERS COMING. 'Moonlight' is the first movie I've seen that's directed by Paula van der Oest, and (again) I fervently hope this is not a typical example of her craft. In 'Moonlight', she shows a penchant for camera set-ups that are distracting and serve no useful purpose. When young Claire feeds her dog, van der Oest plumps for an overhead shot as if we were watching a Busby Berkeley musical. Later, Claire and the fugitive boy break into a house during the resident family's absence, and then attempt some sexual fumblings in the parents' bed ... only to be caught in the act when two people walk in. Van der Oest uses a very contrived camera set-up to make us think that the arrivals are the parents, then uses a reverse angle to reveal that they are actually the family's son and daughter. The switcheroo serves absolutely no purpose except to disorient us. Elsewhere, Claire tells the boy that she's a foundling: is this true, or is it a lie told in a childish attempt to impress him? We never find out. Either way, it's irrelevant to the story.
'Moonlight' could have been a straightforward thriller. A boy from an unnamed country (apparently Turkey) has arrived in Luxembourg as a drugs 'mule', his digestive tract packed with condoms filled with narcotic contraband. When he fails to excrete them quickly enough, a drugs runner shoots him and leaves him for dead ... but stupidly doesn't bother to check. The girl Claire finds the boy and helps him, but oddly she never tells her parents about him. (If she's a foundling, they must be her foster parents.) Very implausibly, she runs away from home with the boy, having no clear destination in mind. Are there no police in Luxembourg?
The film places some emphasis on pubescent sexuality: Claire experiences her menarche just before she finds the bleeding boy, and there's some attempt to equate her bloodstained knickers with his bloodstained gut. Later, there's a deeply implausible sequence in which the two runaways enrol themselves in a girls' convent school, where the nuns accept them without question. Claire introduces the boy as her sister: he is very clearly male (even while wearing a Communion dress), yet all the nuns and at least one priest automatically accept him as a girl. Speaking of girls' clothing, I could have done without the shot of the Down's Syndrome girl stripping off to her bra and underpants.
Obscure joke: Claire's dog is named Quick, and at one point the dog seems to have a stunt double. I couldn't help wondering if the stunt double's name is Flupke. (Americans won't get this reference.)
This is one of those movies in which increasingly contrived events keep happening ... and AFTER each one occurs, we realise that it didn't really happen after all: Claire seems to be turning more and more hallucinatory as the film proceeds. At the end of the film, Claire commits suicide by an extremely implausible method. Or ... DOES she? Sheesh!
I well and truly wanted to like this film. When director van der Oest puts aside her arty crotchets and she sticks to the story, she shows some genuine narrative talent despite the increasing incoherence of this plot line. In the lead role as Claire, young actress Laurien Van den Broeck is extremely pretty and personable, with significant screen presence. I wish her good luck elsewhere in other projects.
If you watch any five consecutive minutes of 'Moonlight', you'll mistake this for a brilliant film. If you watch it from beginning to end, as I did, your response will likely be similar to mine: namely, "HUH?" I wish that all this talent and these resources had been devoted to a more coherent screenplay, and I regretfully rate 'Moonlight' only 4 out of 10.