"The Almost Moon"
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Screenplay Written by David Hare
Produced by Scott Rudin
Original Score by Phillip Glass
Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey
Film Edited by Peter Boyle
Art Direction by Nick Palmer
Costume Design by Ann Roth
Maria Bello - Helen Knightly
Piper Laurie - Clair Knightly
Saffron Burrows - Clair Knightly, at age 40
Anna Sophia Robb - Helen Knightly, at age 13
William Hurt - Jake Forrest
Josh Lucas - Robert Knightly
and Olympia Dukakis as Mrs. Castle
Tagline: "Almost a moon. Almost a family"
Synopsis: Upon pulling up to the house and seeing the dried up lawn, the dilapidated porch and hearing her mother's screams from inside the house, Helen knew she should not have answered Mrs. Castle's call. For a brief moment she thought of just driving past the house and going home but she could not do that to poor Mrs. Castle; a kindly old neighbor that looked after her mother and asked for nothing in return. No, Helen knew that her mother was no one else's problem to take care of but her own. Helen took a deep breath before stepping through the door. She was startled by her own reflection in the hallway mirror. The life seemed to have been drained from her. She was a walking zombie. She did not recognize herself.
Clair was sitting in her wing chair, wrapped in her shawl. She was furious at Mrs. Castle. Clair had no evidence but was sure that Mrs. Castle was stealing from her. In fact, Clair Knightly trusted no one. Cared for no one. Not even her daughter. Over the years she had grown to loathe Helen. Clair found her to be needy and selfish. Clair longed to go back to when she was a young woman. The woman she saw in the mirror every morning was not the woman she remembers being. This gray haired, wrinkled, short, fat old woman is a far cry from the red haired, beautiful, tall statuesque lingerie model that she remembers being.
When Helen enters the room Clair begins to berate her. Yelling words such as "bitch" and "whore". Helen believes to this to be due to her mothers dementia but Clair knows full well who her attacks are directed at.
Clair and Helen Knightly are a parent and child locked in a relationship so unrelenting that they have become the center of each other's worlds. But today, Helen crosses a boundary she never thought she would approach. And while her act is almost unconscious, it somehow seems like the fulfillment of a lifetime's unspoken wishes. Over the next twenty-four hours, Helen's life rushes in at her as she is forced to confront the choices that have brought her to this one riveting crossroad. As a woman who spent years trying to win the love of someone who had none to spare, she now faces an uncertain and dangerous freedom.
What the Press would say:
With fierce intelligence and emotional intensity, director Stephen Daldry (The Hours) brings us a searing portrait of a mother-daughter bond that descends into murder. Piper Laurie and Maria Bello star as the mother and daughter with Saffron Burrows and Anna Sophia Robb playing their younger counterparts through flashbacks. In this intense film, Piper Laurie is a controlling, mean old mother that drives Maria Bello's character to the point where she feels she has to murder her. This isn't spoiling much since the film is not about the actual murder itself but about the bond between the mother and daughter and what drove them to this crossroad.
Maria Bello, giving the performance of her career, plays the adult Helen Knightly. A woman who has lost everything. She is a desperate woman looking for a way out of her life that has become insufferable. After murdering her mother she finds a sense of freedom from a lifetime of abuse and neglect. In flashbacks we see a young Helen Knightly searching for the affection from her mother, Clair played by Saffron Burrows. Both Robb and Burrows give wonderful performances. Burrows perfectly plays a woman that is slowly falling into dementia after her husband Robert Knightly (Josh Lucas) commits suicide. After Helen kills her mother - a tour de force performance by the great Piper Laurie - has no other choice but to call her ex husband Jake - another great performance by William Hurt. Jake unwillingly becomes an accomplice to Helens crime. This all leads to one of the most thrilling endings in recent film history.
"The Almost Moon" is a film that grabs hold of you from the beginning and does not let go til the last frame. With his unflinching ability to confront the violence and danger that lurk beneath life's everyday surface, director Stephen Daldry and writer David Hare explores the complex ties within families, the meaning of devotion, and the thin line that separates us from the most haunting impulses. The Almost Moon is unforgettable, a raw and powerful story of passion and redemption that is sure to become a classic.
For Your Consideration
Best Director - Stephen Daldry
Best Adapted Screenplay - David Hare
Best Actress - Maria Bello
Best Supporting Actress - Piper Laurie
Best Supporting Actress - Saffron Burrows