MIFF 2011: Jess + Moss

23 Jul

I loved Jess + Moss. Not something I often say about a film, but I truly did.

Here we have 18 year old Jess and 12 year old Moss who are spending their summer together. The two go swimming, bike riding, run in rampant tobacco fields, fight, experience the magic of fireworks and make up. This is presented to the viewer as snapshots in time, occurring randomly as the hot summer stretches on. Shot on numerous varieties of film stock the colour is completely saturated with the green of lake algae contrasting strikingly with the blue of the sky, the yellow of the fields and the red of blood.

As the two go about their unconventional summer holiday in a dilapidated and barely-standing house they listen to tapes of music, of Jess’s mother talking, of instructions in how to “train your memory”. This concept of memory- the creating, the loss, the retrieving of memory-is strong throughout the film. Whilst Jess repeatedly tells the story of how her parents and Moss’s parents were “the best of friends” the parents are only glimpsed through grainy flashbacks, and never seen together. Moss’s parents have apparently died in a car accident an event he cannot recall but desperately needs to and Jess’s are nowhere to be seen.

It is this pursuit for lost memory and truth that, as with all whimsical films, is the darkness that is lurking just outside of the shot. I don’t believe this film will be for everyone though. One of the great things about film festivals is that everyone is vocal on their opinion after the film and apparently, according to some of my fellow cinema goers, nothing much really happened here. But don’t believe them; see the lyrical and melancholy of Jess + Moss for yourselves.

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