Sometimes when I walk out of a cinema after watching a film I find myself thinking ‘did I like that film or did I not?’ That was certainly the case for me when I walked out of the Lido Cinemas after watching new Australian film Moon Rock For Monday. On one hand I loved the quirkiness of the film, loved its originality but on the flip-side there were a few flaws that were impossible for me to ignore.
The film is the debut feature film for director/screenwriter Kurt Martin (The Walrus And The Oyster) and centres around events that occurred way back in 1999. Monday (newcomer Ashlyn Louden-Gamble) is not a happy little girl. She wants to live life and explore but finds she is held back by her widowed father, Bob (Aaron Jeffery – Wentworth), who actually lives his entire life around her.
Bob has left his job as an university lecturer so he can stay home and home-school the terminally ill Monday. However, not only does she find herself not enjoying the medication that keeps her alive but she always wants to get out explore the world that she can only read about it. Her biggest dream is to visit ‘The Moon Rock’ (Uluru) as she believes that its mystical powers may be enough to heal her.
Both Bob and Monday’s lives then change when while out to buy Monday a new rabbit and visit the hospital for her treatment Monday becomes separated by Bob and crosses paths with Tyler (George Pullar – Coyote), a young man who has just conducted an armed robbery that has left a Police Officer dead.
Tyler sees Monday as his way to escape and Monday sees Tyler as her way to have an adventure, and perhaps even get to the Moon Rock. But while they begin their journey Bob is out of his mind and having to deal with Detective Lionell (David Field – The Rover) who is more determined to get revenge for the fallen cop (his brother) than he is to find Monday.
In a lot of ways Moon Rock For Monday is a beautiful story. You find yourself captivated as you watch the bond form between Tyler and Monday and I found myself marvelling at how Martin has written Tyler as a character that you end up barracking for despite the fact that he has just killed a Police Officer.
The journey that Monday and Tyler embark on also shows that Martin truly understands the tropes of a ‘road movie.’ I was subtly impressed by the characters that the pair encounter on the way and despite what many people believe these kinds of characters don’t have to ‘stick around’ in road movies. More important is the fact that characters like Johnny (Clarence Ryan – Cleverman) and The Bobbins (Nicholas Hope – Bad Boy Bubby) are memorable, and they all tick off that box rather easily.
The weakness with Moon Rock For Monday though centres around the ‘Police storyline.’ All of the Police here are clichéd and at times I actually found it sad to watch a brilliant actor like David Field reduced to what he has to work with here. I understand that Martin wanted to show the Police as inept and uncaring but he could have done that and still given them more characterisation. At times even the suspense in the film seem to be affected by the fact that the Police were almost comical and I am sure that was not the intention of Martin with the film.
It is a shame that the Police characters drag back the film because everything else about this film is terrific. George Pullar’s performance will have Hollywood calling while Ashlyn Louden-Gamble is a born performer. Both have big careers ahead of them and it is brilliant to see such a young cast carry a film like this. In fact through-out this film Pullar’s performance reminded me of a young Heath Ledger in Two Hands.
Moon Rock For Monday does have its weaknesses but if you enjoy a good road movie with suspense and quirkiness then this one is certainly worth a look.