Netflix has introduced a movie that not only takes audiences into the psychological effects of working in civil service but strangely and yet successfully marries the theme with a genre bordering on science fiction.
In the Shadow of the Moon (Netflix) tells the story of youthful, naive Locke, a policeman with a thirst for “real” crime and with a passion that will eventually shape his future. In 1988 a string of deaths inspire great interest due to the cause and circumstances surrounding each one. These people seem to have nothing in common, except for three injection wounds to the neck and all dying in the same brutal way at the same time. When a victim is found with the telling three marks alive, she manages to give just enough information for Locke to identify a suspect. This is where the story becomes something of the unexpected as the suspect known as the women in the hoodie confronts Locke and reveals she already knows him and his entire life, including his future.
In the Shadow of the Moon begins in a fairly safe and mundane way, surely laying the path of information for future excitement. To begin Locke’s character is neither here nor there, he is just of the ordinary. A cop that sticks his nose where it is not qualified to go, in the hopes of being promoted to a detective. A usual storyline not unfamiliar to those interested in the crime-fiction drama, as an ignorant police officer uses their charm and sway to intrude on crime scenes. Personally, Locke’s charm was not that charming and when he was allowed to literally mess with a corpse after saying “I’ll give you a smoke” it all felt a little juvenile and predictable. Fortunately for In the Shadow of the Moon this start was just the foundation for a character that was soon to be rich, complex and in a way heartbreaking.
Much in the fashion of other memorable classics such as Memento or Shutter Island, In the Shadow of the Moon takes audiences on a roller coaster as they navigate the twists and turns of the narrative. Do not be fooled; this film is not what it seems and is sure to break your heart and remind you what it means to value the life you have. With little expectations going in audiences will be pleasantly surprised to be swept up in the obsession that Locke finds himself gripped by as he tries to understand why people die in a certain fashion every nine years. The script is tantalizing and incredibly paced as the narrative urges audiences to try and comprehend for themselves the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the “murders”. Following Locke as he is plagued by his unquenchable need to discover the truth leads the audience to question their own morals, integrity and egotistical desires as we wonder what we might do in his shoes.
Boyd Holbrook plays the formidable Locke, lending his talent to portray a man that grows into himself through an arduously complex storyline. Holbrook is magnificent as he demonstrates a subtle character progression throughout the chronological years of the story. Holbrook offers a deep and meaningful character arc that does justice to the script, further influencing the audience to empathize and relate with the narrative on a profound level. Holbrook is not alone as In the Shadow of the Moon boasts a plethora of talent, including Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine and Michael C. Hall, whom all come together to sell the heart of the film with passion and gumption.
Overall In the Shadow of the Moon is tantalizing, provocative and exhilarating. It is the kind of movie you want to watch twice as new subtleties and nods to themes rear their faces in hindsight. The movie explores themes of race, politics and civil war whilst daringly wrapping their entire meaning in themes of time travel, dimension, and reality. The production designers and cinematographers should be commended for their nuance and sense of foreboding as props and shots are manipulated to give repeat viewers knowing nods to the plot that lays ahead. On a more human level, the film is one full of life lessons, of regret, closure and moving on. In the Shadow of the Moon is incredibly moving and had me with tears in my eyes as I was reminded what it means to only have one life and to live it fully as you truly cannot predict the future. Sure to be a win with crime-fiction and sci-fi fans both and honestly a contender to win the hearts of audiences who give it the chance, In the Shadow of the Moon is unpredictable and fresh, something new for audiences that want to experience something a little bit different, a film of passion and deception.
Maggie has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Maggie gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.