The Insatiable Moon
New Zealand romance with mental illness themes can't quite reach the Cuckoo's Nest
It’s no surprise that this uplifting comic drama from New Zealand, which is set in a home for the mentally ill, features a charismatic but unstable protagonist and mixes social realism with religious parable, has been proclaimed One Flew Over the Kiwi’s Nest. Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider) plays Arthur, the self-proclaimed Second Son of God who presides over a motley crew of misfits in a boarding house for the mentally ill and homeless that’s threatened with closure. Following a sexual liaison with a troubled community worker (Sara Wiseman) Arthur becomes increasingly deluded, but even as the doctors drug him into submission his vision for a caring society appears to be coming to fruition.
Husband/wife writer/director team Mike and Rosemary Riddell’s low-budget film (adapted by former Baptist preacher Mike from his own novel and directed by Rosemary while moonlighting from her day job as a judge) doesn’t pack the allegorical and cinematic clout of Ken Kesey’s book and Milos Forman’s film, but it’s energised, thoughtful and charming. And it benefits from a sure sense of place (small town Ponsonby, where Riddell once preached) and a decent cast of relative unknowns.
GFT, Glasgow, Fri 25–Sun 27 Mar; Hippodrome, Bo’ness Wed 27–Thu 28 Apr; Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, Thu 28–Sat 30 Apr; Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre, Dumfries, Tue 21–Wed 22 Jun.