A Wheel & the Moon (Short Film) (2013)

2 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“I’ve never really wondered what it would be to lose part of myself. To not feel like a whole person again. Losing someone I love is one thing…but to go on living while part of me dies…” That inner thought that opens the short film “A Wheel & the Moon” says a lot. What if you knew for sure that you were going to lose your vision? What would you feel? What would you do?

Adapted from Jonathan Carroll’s short story, “A Wheel in the Desert, the Moon on some Swings,” and made as a graduate thesis film for University of Central Arkansas’ Digital Filmmaking Master-of-Fine-Arts Program, Chris Paradis’ “A Wheel & the Moon” is about a young man named Norman, who learns he is indeed going blind and tries to imagine his life without eyesight. He finds himself wandering his hometown, hoping to find some way to find something positive about this. The best he can come up with is to buy a camera and take as many pictures as he can that capture the world around him.

“A Wheel & the Moon” effectively tells an interesting tale of how Norman (Justin Pike in an effective low-key performance) continues to try and find the optimistic side to what he fears will come. The people he encounters along the way are interesting and surprisingly, given their short amount of screen time (for a film that is about 20 minutes in running time), have distinct personalities. In particular, there’s a homeless man (Tucker Steinmetz) who claims to be blind and tells Norman what he misses most about not seeing (fried chicken); Norman’s caring sister (Sarah Holderfield); and a makeup artist (Angy Champine) who manages to give Norman a good idea of what he’ll look like “in 50 years”; among others. These are all appealing characters that our protagonist encounters on his personal journey that ultimately results in him finding himself.

The only thing I didn’t particularly like about “A Wheel & the Moon,” which is otherwise a competently-made film that works as slice-of-life and an effective, non-manipulative feel-good drama, was the ending. I can tell there’s a heartwarming message to be said about enjoying the oddness and beauty of life, but it was kind of hard to take it in because it feels somewhat rushed. Although to be fair, I should note that the sequence that comes before that final bit did an effective job at delivering the necessary emotional drive by itself.

“A Wheel & the Moon” is an effective short drama. It actually kind of reminded me of UCA alum Sarah Jones’ MFA film last year, “John Wayne’s Bed,” in that each short film treated its story and its audience with enough regard that it didn’t have to succumb to melodramatic formulas just to make us care—it just efficiently told the story. “A Wheel & the Moon” is moving, and it’s well-done, and it works.

SIDE-NOTE: I love this line about the fried chicken, said in an earlier scene in which Norman encounters the blind homeless man—“Fried chicken is three things—smell, taste, and sight…You gotta see it to really eat it.” KFC would probably kill for that slogan.

3 Responses to “A Wheel & the Moon (Short Film) (2013)”

  1. mrlemniscate April 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this T.Smith. You have some great insights. I’m glad you like the fried chicken dialogue. The short story goes into a bit more detail about food texture, etc. which would truly make a great KFC spot lol.

    The guy at the end of the film – Flint – is Norman’s ex-boyfriend, who has no idea why he is there or that his ex has vision troubles. The scene was shot a bit longer – but kind of cluttered the ending. The important thing to gather is that good things will start to happen for Norman after he accepts his circumstances and moves on.




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