‘A la memoire de Lune’ Review: Sweetness and Loss Flow Gently Together in Johnny Zito’s Short Film
A la memoire de Lune, is a short film written and directed by, and starring Johnny Zito. The premise is simple, and delivered with beautiful naturalism. Johnny and a French woman named Lune walk through New York. He is devastated at the breakup of a difficult romance and she offers him advice: to hold his head up, to be “en garde.” He calls her his sister and she tells him that she loves him and that many others do too. But there are intimations of tragedy. The film’s opening shows Lune and Johnny standing together, and then she fades from the frame leaving him alone.
For a thirteen-minute short, with very little (possibly no) budget, a la memoire de Lune achieves a great deal. The conversation carried on between the two friends is sweet and effortlessly convincing. In the closing credits Lune’s monologue is credited to Helene Muyal-Leiris, to whom the film is dedicated, which adds an extra layer of poignancy and truth to the proceedings. Lune is played winningly by Shira Lebovich, who embues her lines with a winning optimism, so that in short order we all wish we had a friend like Lune.
The structure of the film is fluid and sophisticated. Johnny’s feelings about the loss of Lune are seamlessly interwoven with her life affirming speech delivered to help him through a rough time. In this way, a la memoire de Lune really does feel like a recollection – a series of related memories flowing gently together. There’s even a Proustian moment where Lune lights a cigarette for Johnny, which flares brightly and then fades to reveal a votive candle being lit, which perfectly connects the two streams of consciousness.
A la memoire de Lune is a truthful, layered, poetic little film, that more than deserves thirteen minutes of your time. It may not have the professional sheen of other short films, but it more than makes up for that with invention and heart. Bravo Johnny!
The film is the first production from Johnny Zito’s Nora Lune Productions and won the prize for best experimental film at the NYC Indie Film Awards. It is still doing the rounds across the international film festival scene, with a public release planned for late summer or autumn 2018.