Written and directed by Ross Munro, a love letter to filmgoing communities as director Munro lovingly reconstructs what it was like for him as a 9-year-old going to see a movie on a Saturday afternoon back in 1972.
While The Moviegoer is heavy with nostalgia, first and foremost it’s dedicated to the experience of going to the cinema and how that has changed over the years. It highlights how it used to be more of an event, something to make tradition out of and to spend all week looking forward to. As time has gone on, it’s become increasingly accessible but also a lesser beloved past time, with the growing amount of options at home and prices. That’s before you even take into account the shrinking attention spans and sequel hungry viewers. Ross Munro makes you pine for the days when cinema was more of a spectacle, bringing to mind moments like Alfred Hitchcock’s warnings and specific rules for showings of Psycho, which simply doesn’t happen anymore.
Behind that is a walk down memory lane, discovering your passions in your early years and embracing them furiously. Munro uses a mix of fact and fiction, recreating his childhood crush and reimagining her films with a strong 1970s feel. It captures the sheer cheesy nature of that era of cinema, the terrible yet hugely enjoyable special effects and the dash of misogyny or exploitation. It also touches upon the distinctly sexual nature to that period of cinema but manages to do so without foraying into seedy territory. A choice which means it can hold onto its homely, sentimental and bouncy charm.
It can lean too heavily on the fictionalised aspects at times, the recreations of movie moments start to take away focus from the story as a whole. That uneven balance means that there isn’t a smoothly flowing feel to The Moviegoer, the narration is still consistently following the path but it feels as though visually it’s stopping and starting. The package of nostalgia and love of cinema, plus the huge 1970s influence is a good combination but it’s missing something to bring it all together more succinctly. It could have used another aspect to add a touch of variety to the tone or punch up the humour.
The Moviegoer is a strong homage to the 1970s and the lost art of going to the movies. It’s filled with adoration for the days when cinema was a spectacle, a weekly treat and an experience to be treasured. It makes you think about how cinema going is now, to most people, a simply casual activity, with viewers constantly on their phones and it being quickly forgotten or skipped altogether in favour of whatever new film or show is streaming. It loses some of its focus along the way and gets distracted with overly using fictionalised versions of movies, although they’re well intentioned and the film does have a sincere charm.