BERLIN (Reuters) – Spanish director Carla Simón’s film “Alcarràs”, which explores the divisions of a Catalan farming family facing expulsion from their ancestral plot, won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday. .
Carla Simón herself grew up on a peach farm in the town of Alcarràs, and her film was made using amateur actors from that region that she recruited and trained to play several generations of a family of smallholders.
Announcing the award for best film, the festival’s first since returning to in-person screenings following the coronavirus-imposed break last year, Jury President M. Night Shyamalan praised the director’s ability to organize powerful performances from an ensemble cast. that ranged from child actors to people in their 80s.
“This is a film about family relationships, their generational tensions, gender roles and the importance of unity in times of crisis,” she wrote in her retraction of the film.
“This is a reflection on the need for adaptation, as we portray the last days of a universe that its inhabitants believed to be eternal”, according to Carla Simón.
During an emotional ceremony in which several winners dedicated awards to friends who died of Covid-19, the award for best documentary went to “Myanmar Diaries”, a documentary filmed by 10 anonymous filmmakers whose footage was smuggled and stitched together into a portrait of life in Myanmar since last year’s coup.
Amid tensions and diplomacy centered on Russia’s intentions towards Ukraine, some awards reflected Berlin’s traditional role as a political festival, created in the 1950s in a divided city on the frontlines of the Cold War.
“Moonfall” is an action-packed sci-fi adventure full of clichés and onion lines. Still, it’s hard to stop watching. The premise is as it usually is in doomsday movies. A strange object will soon collide with the earth, and we only have a short time to save humanity. In this case, a mysterious force has knocked the moon out of its orbit, and now it is about to collide with our planet at breakneck speed, at the same time as large pieces of moon fall down the closer it gets. It’s now up to a former astronaut, a NASA chief and a conspiracy theorist to churn the steak at all odds. In just three weeks. But it turns out that the moon may not be what we thought it was.
Director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day”, “Godzilla”, “Day After Tomorrow”, “2012”) is no newcomer to disaster movies. It is noticeable that he likes and knows the concept. But in “Moonfall” it will unfortunately be a flat fall. Sure, it’s sometimes exciting and hard to predict how it will end. Which makes you want to keep checking. But it is also one of the film’s few strengths. Otherwise, it is a smattering of platitudes, patriotism and cringe-ings we are offered. Sometimes the dialogue is so cheesy that it’s hard not to start laughing. Most of the action also feels incredibly forced and stressed. The tempo is high and it becomes difficult to get to know or like any of the characters.
Halle Berry plays the main character Jo Fowler. A former astronaut who is now a high-ranking NASA chief and the one who leads the mission. Although it’s fun to see her in this type of role, it does not really last in the end. It is noticeable that she makes the best of the material she has received, but some of her lines are downright painful. The anonymous Patrick Wilson dots almost all the clichés in the book in the role of the retired astronaut Brian Harper. His “bad” relationship with his son Sonny (Charlie Plummer) and their storyline feels incredibly twisted and fulfills no major function. John Bradley (“Game of Thrones”) may unsurprisingly act as the film’s “comic relief” as the conspiracy theorist KC Houseman. He is the one who warns everyone that the earth will perish, but which no one believes in until the very last moment. The screenwriters have tried to give some dramatic weight to the character in the form of a demented mother that he visits from time to time. But it also feels squeezed and their relationship is barely explored. These three form an odd and sometimes funny trio, but that does not lift the film in the long run.
One of the film’s biggest problems is that it can not be taken seriously. “Moonfall” is presented as a serious action adventure in space where you have to sit with your breath in your throat. At the same time, it is very twisted (not least in the last half hour) and contains many comic elements. If you were to turn the crunch meter to the max and make a pure comedy, it would have had a completely different expression. Then we as an audience understand that this is not meant to be taken seriously, which makes it easier to buy the concept. Now the film just feels hollow and a little brain dead. My own interest in conspiracies is fueled by new exciting theories. But in the end it goes to exaggeration, and the film’s finale and “big twist” feels downright ridiculous.
“Moonfall”, however, addresses some fascinating aspects of human behavior and survival instinct in an apocalypse. How easily some seem to turn from civilized people to pure savages. How a society can go from order to anarchy in just a few hours. But as with most things in this film, nothing gets much space. It is also difficult not to draw connections between the conspiracy theorists in the film to today’s anti-waxers. An interesting wink to what reality looks like today. Despite its major shortcomings, “Moonfall” is still somewhat entertaining and exciting to watch. But those who want a deep and complex story should look further.