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Rated 3.01 stars
by 184 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
by Betty Jo Tucker

Although based on a true story, Closer to the Moon doesn’t feel real at all. The title, a metaphor referring to longing for greatness, seems easy to understand. But the tale unfolding on screen comes across as artificial and befuddling. Despite some interesting scenes with Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong, two of my favorite actors, this fictionalized historical offering left me very disappointed indeed. To be fair, it’s important to mention that Closer to the Moon received nine Romanian Gopos Awards plus three best acting nominations (Farmiga, Strong and Harry Lloyd).    

A gang of six

robbing a bank –

is it for real

or just a prank?


Making a film

is what they claim.

But that’s a lie.

They are to blame. 


Missing money

reveals the proof.

Robbers get caught

and own their goof.


They now must do

a real film shoot.

And show the world

their pasts to boot.


Why did they rob

and then confess?

Why can’t they see

they’re in a mess?


The gang of six

confused me so.

Should I have laughed –

or felt this low?


What is it like

close to the moon?

This gang of six

found out too soon.

Set in Romania after World War II, the plot follows Max (Strong/Sherlock Holmes), an unhappily married police officer, and his five old friends who fought together as part of the Jewish Resistance during the war. They all feel dissatisfied with their treatment by the current communist regime as well as with the lack of their own importance in Romania and the rampant anti-Semitism. So one night while partying on a rooftop underneath the beautiful silvery moon, they decide on an outrageous plan that could result in the death penalty for anyone participating in it. Alice (Farmiga/Up in the Air), the only woman in the group, expresses reservations at first because she has a son to think about. But the majority rules. This gang of six will rob a Romania National Bank under the pretense of making a movie.

When captured, part of the punishment for the gang of six involves their involvement in making a propaganda film about the robbery itself. This part of Closer to the Moon emerges as the most entertaining for me. Alice enjoys being made-up and costumed for her role; Max cheerfully takes over the drunken director’s job; and the young cameraman (Lloyd/The Iron Lady) becomes smitten with the film’s leading lady. (I couldn’t help thinking what a ball Mel Brooks would have with this section of the movie!)

Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a downer -- and at the end, we are still left with questions regarding the motivations of Romania’s famous  gang of six. That said, the movie’s production values deserve praise. Sets, cinematography and costumes combine to make Closer to the Moon easy on the eyes.          

(Released by IFC Films; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about Closer to the Moon, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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