'Moonlight'

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Moonlight
Directed by Paula van der Oest
Indican, opens August 18, Village East

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Nearly devoid of exposition, this highly original 2002 feature from Dutch filmmaker Paula van der Oest begins with two seemingly unrelated events: A young drug mule (Hunter Bussemaker, in a nearly wordless performance) is shot by smugglers on the same day that a girl named Claire (Laurien Van den Broeck) gets her first menstrual period. When Claire finds the boy bleeding in her adopted parents' shed, a mysterious bond forms between them and she begins nursing him back to health, hiding his presence from both her parents and the gangsters still on his trail. Anyone looking for explanations is in the wrong theater—before long, Claire and the unnamed boy are posing as sisters on a bus full of nuns and handicapped children, and things only get curiouser from there, as the line between fact and fancy becomes hopelessly blurred. Despite the apparent Benelux setting, the sparse dialogue is in English, adding to the overall dislocation and driving home the utter impossibility of an American remake: Not only is the candid (but never prurient) treatment of early-teen sexuality and drug use too hot to handle, but the narrative blend of fairy-tale wonder and nightmare logic feels sui generis.

 
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