Jacqueline Lentzou’s directorial debut, Moon, 66 Questions, is a delicate revaluation of two lost souls, in this case, an estranged father and daughter.
There are occasions in life where situations get more demanding than you’d expected them to be, and you don’t know how to manage such circumstances. At times, you need to start taking care of another individual (in most cases a family member), which may seem harder than it looks, since it is a full-time responsibility for the most part–obtaining an involvement both physically and mentally. However, this caretaking sets up a new form of bond, one that is almost irreplaceable, depending on the openness of each individual involved. In Jacqueline Lentzou’s sharp and earnest directorial debut, Moon, 66 Questions, a daughter reunites with her estranged father when he is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
After many years of distance, Artemis (Sofia Kokkali) goes back to Athens because of the news that her father, Paris (Lazaros Georgakopoulos), is in a frail state of health. Artemis speaks freely with the person sitting next to her on the plane ride to Athens. Yet, as the lyrics in the F. R. Davis’ song “Words” that plays in the end credits say, “words don’t come easy to me”: she is incapable of speaking a single word once she’s with her father (and vice versa).
However, as one would expect and as I previously stated, this act of caretaking creates a new relationship that wasn’t established once–two estranged souls walk the fine line of understanding and discovery. Many of Moon, 66 Questions’ scenes of tension and apprehension come from the quieter moments that revolve around why this father and daughter were distant for such a long time. Their reluctance to speak (although in the beginning, Paris is literally unable to do so) makes the viewer trapped and engaged in this mental battle of emotions that each is going through.
It’s like catching up with a childhood friend after a long while; you don’t know what to say at the moment since the person hasn’t been involved in your life for a considerable part of it. In this case, it’s a father, which cuts deeper for Artemis. One couldn’t begin to understand what she’s going through, especially since her father is “too shy without her” and that “he’s like a child now”. In addition, she’s the only child of divorced parents, technically making her, by default, the attendant of this “burden”.
Nevertheless, that so-called “hindrance” turns into genuine care as the film progresses. The melodramatic hue is imminent in some segments, causing the viewer to lose some attention, predictability coming with it as well. Yet, it’s overall engrossing with the way Lentzou’s sincere screenplay shows the duality between coldness (the psychological distance) and warmth (the slowly growing father-daughter bond). There’s also a different side to this duality, as in one scene, we see Artemis role-playing discussions between her and her father (she’s playing both sides). A quick note appears on the screen, telling the viewer that this is a movie about the need and lack of love, motion, and flow, which perfectly intertwines with the questions Artemis asks regarding Paris, such as “Could he be healed by the warmth of love?”. The film also gives us shots of various Tarot cards (most notably the magician, whose message is to showcase one’s true potential rather than holding back), predetermining what would happen next in the narrative and their relationship.
It also has sequences where we hear Artemis’ voice-over, reading her journal entries as her days in Athens continue. In these voice-overs, we see the real pain and feelings she is going through, adding a deeper sense of empathy and sincerity towards Kokkali’s character. There’s also some VHS footage from the late 90s, in which we see the secrets Paris has been keeping; as Artemis watches, she finally begins to understand her father–ultimately loving him for the first time. Jacqueline Lentzou’s approach to this story is straightforward (she doesn’t have a stylistic directorial prowess); however, she finds an interesting way of saying more with less in a story that has been told many times. Unlike its title, Moon, 66 Questions doesn’t answer as many questions as one would like. Instead, Lentzou purposely leaves them up in the air to make the audience meditate and think about the power of communication and how a simple touch can be more impactful than a bunch of words (or a letter, perhaps).
Moon, 66 Questions had its UK Premiere at the 2022 Glasgow Film Festival on 11 March, 2022 and is now available to watch on digital and on demand.