An inventive adaptation of a one-man stage play into a lavish, hi-def, big-screen production, the fifth feature from actor-playwright-director Robert Lepage is easily his best since his masterful debut, Le Confessional. Far Side of the Moon is likewise set in his hometown of Quebec City, but rather than piling on the Hitchcock references, Lepage offers a sly, semi-autobiographical lesson in the motion of bodies, on and above the Earth. Employing plenty of the director’s signature seamless pans across time and space, Lepage lyrically fuses childhood memories with present-day sibling rivalry, archival footage with crisp video.
Far Side of the Moon is also the first time filmmaker Lepage has directed the actor Lepage, and here he even stars as brothers. As lousy academic-slash-telemarketer Philippe, the portly director is a sad sack extraordinaire, barely coping with his beloved mother’s recent death and the obliviousness of the scientific community to his Tsiolkovsky-influenced theories about the ego-driven nature of the space race. As well-to-do gay meteorologist brother André, Lepage sports a pathetic goatee, appears slimmer (digital effect?), and seems to have inspired Philippe’s harebrained hypotheses. But both brothers are obstinate in equal measure—Philippe, though, is a cancer survivor, and hence more bitter—and Lepage patiently brings the two mirror- image narcissists in line, like planets on parallel orbits. Reworking his own raw material, Lepage spins a rich, moving film that acknowledges humanity’s power to break out of Earth’s daily gravity; in the process, he leaves audiences floating.