×

Film Review: ‘The Moment’

Jennifer Jason Leigh is as radiant and uncompromising as ever in this convoluted and repetitive psychological thriller

With:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Martin Henderson, Alia Shawkat, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Meat Loaf, Navid Negahban.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is as radiant and uncompromising as ever in the role of a guilt-ridden war photographer in the convoluted psychological mystery-thriller “The Moment.” This well-titled debut feature from helmer/co-writer Jane Weinstock indeed functions best from moment to moment, its characters interacting in a convincing present tense. Unfortunately, the film continually resists coherence or synthesis, with puzzles left unresolved amid multiplying possibilities and highly repetitive flashbacks, yielding a mystery that wearies rather than intrigues; as a result, none of the hypotheses offered here carries much weight or generates much suspense. Nevertheless, Leigh’s strong, enveloping performance alone should assure the film limited theatrical release. 

Moving back and forth in time to deliberately confusing effect, the film opens with shutterbug Lee (Leigh) at the home of her ex-boyfriend John (Martin Henderson) to pick up her cameras. But the house is eerily empty, abandoned mid-meal, with flies and decay all around. Lee reports the disappearance, which greatly disturbs her, to a curious police sergeant (Meat Loaf); later, at a photo exhibition in her honor, she has a mental breakdown, coming out of the bathroom nude and mute.

Lee is bundled off to an upscale sanitarium by her solicitous ex-husband (Navid Negahban). There, she slowly begins to assemble the pieces of her past under the supportive, watchful eye of her psychiatrist (Marianne Jean-Baptiste, utterly credible). Lee keeps flashing back to the last evening she spent at John’s house, fearful she may have killed him, with slight variations on the same scenes suggesting different scenarios of guilt or innocence.

The plot soon thickens with the arrival of her somewhat estranged daughter Jessie (Alia Shawkat), who resents the time Lee spends away from home covering wars, and who seems to be embroiled with all the men in her mother’s life, including fellow patient Peter (Henderson again), who bears an uncanny resemblance to John. An additional, somehow traumatic backstory — Lee’s trip to war-torn Somalia, accompanied by a beautiful woman interpreter — first intrudes at the exhibit and is later reprised at odd moments. Lee’s Somalia trip, it seems, was cut short by an explosion that sent her back, wounded, to a Stateside rehabilitation center, where she first met John.

Weinstock gets the hard part right; Leigh is totally believable as a dedicated war correspondent of depth and talent, with years of experience surviving life-threatening conditions. But the character proves less compelling by the 15th flashback or so to the same scene, particularly after Weinstock has methodically auditioned almost every member of the cast, including Leigh herself, for the role of villain.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'The Moment'

Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Viewpoints), April 24, 2013. Running time: 92 MIN.

Production: A Momentous Development presentation of a Next Weekend, Knit One production. (International sales: Preferred Content, Los Angeles.) Produced by Allan Jones, Jane Weinstock, James Welling, Gloria Norris, Mary Jane Skalski, Julia Eisenman. Co-producers, Amy Lippens, Stephanie Laffin, Terry Leonard. Executive producer, Michael F. Mitri.

Crew: Directed by Jane Weinstock. Screenplay, Gloria Norris, Weinstock. Camera (color, HD), James Laxton; editors, Stan Salfas, Ruben Sebban; music, Nathan Larson; production designer, Tod Fjelsted; costume designer, Justine Seymour; sound, Amanda Beggs, Omar Barraza; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Scott Kramer; casting, Amy Lippens, Stephanie Laffin.  

With: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Martin Henderson, Alia Shawkat, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Meat Loaf, Navid Negahban.

More Film

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    Cheng Cheng Films Nabs North American Rights to China's 'Send Me to the Clouds'

    New York-based distributor Cheng Cheng Films has acquired North American rights to first-time Chinese director Teng Congcong’s comedy drama “Send Me to the Clouds,” starring and produced by A-list actress Yao Chen. The company is planning a theatrical release for fall 2019. “Cheng Cheng has always championed films with strong female leads,” the firm said [...]

  • A White White Day

    Film Movement Brings ‘A White, White Day’ to the U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)

    OSLO  —  New-York based distributor Film Movement has acquired U.S. rights to critically-lauded Icelandic drama “A White, White Day,” today’s opening film at New Nordic Films in Haugesund. In a separate deal, sales agent New Europe Film Sales has closed French-speaking Canada with Funfilm and English-speaking Canada with Game Theory. Hlynur Pálmason’s sophomore pic, “A [...]

  • (from left) Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)

    Korea Box Office: ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Topples ‘Exit,’ ‘Roar to Victory’  

    Opening on Wednesday, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” debuted on top of the South Korean box office. Showing on some 1,311 screens nationwide, the UPI release earned $15.1 million from 2.03 million admissions over five days. That included the four-day National Liberation Day weekend. “The Battle: Roar to Victory” remained in second. The [...]

  • Tracy Morgan Netflix stand-up special

    Film News Roundup: Tracy Morgan Joins Eddie Murphy's 'Coming 2 America'

    In today’s film news roundup, Tracy Morgan and Michael Rooker book roles in major movies, and Gravitas buys “Christmas Break-In.” CASTINGS Tracy Morgan has signed on to appear in Eddie Murphy’s “Coming 2 America” sequel as the brother of Lesley Jones’ character. “Hustle & Flow” helmer Craig Brewer is directing the project with Murphy, Kevin [...]

  • Spider-Man Far From Home

    'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Gets Re-Release With New Scene

    Sony Pictures is re-releasing “Spider-Man: Far From Home” with a new action scene. Starting Aug. 29, a new extended cut, featuring four minutes of a never-before-seen action sequence, will be released in theaters in the United States and Canada. The film will also be available in IMAX and large formats in select locations. “Spider-Man: Far [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Supporters Back Matthew Modine After Clumsy Joke at SAG-AFTRA Meeting

    More than 100 women, including Ellen Barkin and Allison Janney, have voiced support for Matthew Modine’s campaign for SAG-AFTRA presidency, following a joke at a SAG-AFTRA meeting that some decried as misogynist. With voting set to conclude on Aug. 28, the campaigns have featured vitriolic attacks between supporters of Modine, secretary-treasurer Jane Austin and incumbent [...]

  • Lady Gaga

    Variety Earns 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie Award Nominations

    Variety has received 14 Folio: Eddie & Ozzie award nominations for its coverage of the entertainment industry over the past year. The awards gala, which will take place at The Hilton Midtown in New York City on Oct. 30, celebrates publications that have demonstrated impressive investigative journalism, in addition to thoughtful digital and print design. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content