Written and directed by lead actor Matthew Alson Thornbury, a semi-autobiographical tale of a man who travels back to Eastern Kentucky to deal with the death of his estranged father. Also starring: T.A. Taylor, John Orr, Lynette Elliott, Terry Sikes, Natalie Williams and Lauryn McCoy.
Grief and loss are topics that in recent years are finally getting explored accurately, to show that they’re not one size fits all experiences. Blue Moon does a great job of portraying the individual nature of the subject and takes it further too. Firstly, it’s a refreshing change to see the lead Michael (Thornbury) not bowing to the usual façade of politeness, it’s not the duty of a grieving person to react in the way you think they should. So often in media people are judged based on not having the expected emotional and physical response to loss but that’s simply not how it works in reality.
There’s then a whole host of stylistic and thematic choices which push Blue Moon outside of your average film about grief. Starting with the score which is present right from the start and consistently throughout the film; it’s dramatic, intense and brings almost a sci-fi feel. A touch which comes in handy when the film strays off the expected path at times, making some unusual moves in its story but Matthew Alson Thornbury pulls them off surprisingly well. Thornbury also does a great job building tension, you can already foretell the type of relationship Michael had with his late father based off of the atmosphere. It also dips its toes interestingly into religion, touching upon the idea that we don’t have to understand everything but can still value the experience.
While it does have a few more dramatic or unusual qualities, at its heart it is a very down to earth story. A big part of which is captured through Matthew Alson Thornbury’s performance which portrays a humble struggle, with pride, determination and sincere emotion. It’s touching and he holds back just the right amount so the few moments that he doesn’t mean all the more. He’s backed up by a great ensemble, it’s a huge mix of different personalities and each individual interaction has something to add to the story.
Blue Moon is a touching and relatable exploration of grief with some added flare. It adds an effective intensity early on which brings an engaging and more complex atmosphere. It takes some unexpected roads along the way and they’re not easy things to pull off, it’s unexpected that they fit so easily here. Matthew Alson Thornbury manages to create something genuinely humble while adding a few unusual touches along the way.