REVIEW: Moon Garden (2022)

dir. Ryan Stevens Harris

After a harrowing domestic accident five year old Emma (Haven Lee Harris) wanders through a comatose dreamscape. As she journeys back to consciousness she’s guided by the voice of her mother (Augie Duke), encountering figures of both beauty and terror within herself.

Editor-turned-director Ryan Stevens Harris’ sophomore film is a remarkable slice of fantasy. The past and present bleed together in Emma’s comatose state, memories clashing with the voice of her parent on the other side of the world. At times the aesthetic may be guilty of resembling a series of glossy music videos – its dream logic leading to some narrative issues as Emma’s journey progresses – and yet there is a remarkable beauty here, aided by impressively coherent art design and effects work that goes way beyond the film’s indie roots.

A labour of love, Moon Garden for the most part succeeds in being a moving, fantastical epic which has much to say about how children view the world and experience subjects that adults may assume are out of their grasp. DP Wolfgang Meyer and composer Michael Deragon in particular do stellar work, whilst the performance Harris has marshalled from his young daughter feels like an emerging talent we haven’t seen the life of.

Russell Bailey


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