Moon Dogs: On the road to adulthood
by Vladan Petkovic
- Philip John's first feature film is an audience-friendly road movie about disposing of teenage illusions
Welsh-born writer-director and punk musician Philip John's first feature film, Moon Dogs [+see also:
interview: Philip John
film profile], screened at Warsaw Film Festival after world-premiering at Edinburgh. Co-written by Derek Boyle and Raymond Friel, it is an engaging, feel-good road movie with a lot of humour and an inspiring soundtrack.
Michael (Jack Parry-Jones) and Thor (Christy O'Donnell) are half-brothers living in the Shetland Islands, together with their respective mother and father. Michael is a decent boy with common teenage romantic misconceptions, while Thor is a Trent Reznor wannabe, playing an accordion (which he was probably urged to learn as a child by his bookish father) and trying to produce his own kind of electronic music. The two like each other much less than their parents like each other, and are in constant conflict.
When Michael's girlfriend goes to study in Glasgow, he immediately gets jealous and decides to go and get her. Thor tags along, and on their journey, a series of often funny and sometimes totally ridiculous events, they pick up a hot, wild girl named Caitlin (Tara Lee), on the search for a band to sing with at the Celtic Connections festival.
The trio travels by boat, truck, bus, and even on a motorcycle with a sidecar, eventually reaching Glasgow, each of them on their own. This is the result of Caitlin trying to teach the boys that attraction and romance do not have to be a reason for jealousy and possessiveness.
Moon Dogs has all the qualities for a successful festival and arthouse theatre run, with its likeable actors (Lee is more experienced, with a role in US drama Miracles from Heaven this year, while for Parry-Jones and O'Donnell this is a feature debut), mostly smooth storytelling, impressive visuals with an accent on Scottish landscapes, and superb, if slightly overused, music by Anton Newcombie of The Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Moon Dogs is a co-production between Ireland's Ripple World Pictures and the UK's Up Helly Aa Films.