Review: Between Earth and the Moon (2020)

Courtesy of Stockfish

For Patryk, the grade-school-boy protagonist of Anna Karín Lárusdóttir’s and Hekla Egils’ short Between Earth and the Moon, growing up is harder than usual. The atmosphere has been home is grim for quite a time, since his elder brother Łukasz has gone missing. The father Tomek (Tomasz Wróblewski) is doing his best to keep the family afloat, while the mother Kasia (Karolina Boguslawska) has not still come to terms with her son’s departure. The fact that they are the immigrants in, until recently, pretty enclosed Icelandic society, meaning that they do not speak the language fluently, if at all, does not help either: apart from being mocked at school and at swimming practice for his immigrant background and basic vocabulary, Patryk is often at the but-end of the joke for his “dead” brother and “crazy” mother. All he actually wants is an emotional connection to his family, his peers and his environment, but for even starting to get there, the mystery about Łukasz has to be solved.

The title might provide the key for such thing, especially after taking the cue from the repeated shots of the sky and a few seemingly nonsensical lines of dialogue. The execution of both the dramaturgical and visual aspect of the film and its storytelling in the hands of the directing duo is simply spot on, we know just as much as we need to as the plot progresses, the eerie score by Davídh Berndsen adds to the tension and the cinematography by Óttar Ingi Thorbergsson is simply beautiful. Regarding the acting, the young Iwo Egill Maluga Árnason has a complicated task to find the balance of his character’s sensitivity, to avoid most of the clichés and to make it believable, which he achieves in stunning fashion.

What makes Between Earth and the Moon one of the best shorts in this year’s Shortfish competition at Stockfish is the fact that it works both as a smart light-SF mystery-thriller ideal to be shown as an introductory film at a midnight slot, and as a festival-friendly drama about family- and societal relations that touches the well-known topics in a fresh way. Might not seem much at first glance, but it is quite an achievement.

Original title: Milli tungls og jardhar
Year: 2020
Runtime: 14’ 47’’
Country: Iceland
Languages: Polish, Icelandic, English
Directed by: Anna Karín Lárusdóttir, Hekla Egils
Written by: Anna Karín Lárusdóttir, Hekla Egils
Cast: Iwo Egill Maluga Árnason, Tomasz Wróblewski, Karolina Boguslawska, Sólveig Gudhmundsdóttir
Cinematography by: Óttar Ingi Thorbergsson
Music by: Davídh Berndsen
Production design by: Salvör Sólnes, Katla Sólnes
Costume design by: Salvör Sólnes, Katla Sólnes
Make-up by: Eva Thorsteinsdóttir
Assistant director: Hákon J. Helgason
Produced by: Anna Karín Lárusdóttir, Hekla Egils, Sjafnar Björgvinsson, Stefán Freyr Margrétarsson
Production company: Paesís Productions