“The Faces of the Moon” is female helmer Guita Schyfter’s third and weakest effort. A light ensemble piece about the struggles and aspirations of modern women, verbose pic is neither cinematic nor witty enough to sustain its initial interest. Cast might spark some local attention, but foreign appeal will be restricted to very specialized film fests.
Working from a script by husband Hugo Hiriart, Schyfter describes the interaction between five jurors at the third annual Latin American Women’s Film Festival in Mexico City. Shosh Balsher (Carola Reyna) is an Argentinean filmmaker who lived in Mexico as a political exile; Joan (Geraldine Chaplin) is a New York film theorist and militant lesbian; Mariana (Carmen Montejo) is the eldest, a filmmaking pioneer (obviously modeled after the late Matilde Landeta); Julia (Haydee de Lev) was a Uruguayan terrorist who spent 13 years in jail; and latecomer Maruja (Ana Torrent) is a Spanish producer.
They all perform their duties under the supervision of harried organizer Magdalena (Diana Bracho), who tries to influence the jury’s decision to keep the sponsors happy.
Cliches about predictable issues — motherhood, political commitment, sexual choice, prostitution, abortion — fly as each character gets her two cents in while viewing the competing docus, videos and shorts.
Schyfter’s aim looks to be a feminist version of “Nashville” but helmer lacks Robert Altman’s ability to unify many plotlines and characters into a coherent whole. Burdened with a dragging pace and a feeble sense of comic timing, the different stories stumble into each other.
Predominantly female cast handles its task with aplomb. Reyna and Torrent give lively perfs, while Chaplin repeats her all-too-familiar kooky shtick and top thesp Bracho is wasted in a supporting role.
Pic’s biggest shortcoming is technical. Shot on digital video and transferred to film, the resulting image quality is shoddy. Most of the scenes are in soft focus or even out of focus.