Movie Review – In the Shadow of the Moon

TL;DR – A fascinating look at an issue and how people would react to it as we watch a man’s life fall apart around him.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

In the Shadow of the Moon. Image Credit: Netflix.


If you want my interest in a film, you need to take something familiar and twist it, say a serial murder with more going on. Of course, once you have an interesting premise, you need to follow it up, which is not always the case, but today we see a film that comes very close to nailing those two parts. So very close.    

So to set the scene, it is a quiet night in Philadelphia when all of a sudden a woman collapses while driving a bus crashing into multiple cars before being taken out but a cement truck. When the police get to the scene they discover that the driver is covered in her own blood after something liquefied her brain. Three puncture wounds were in her neck, which would be bad, but across the city three more people collapse in the same way. Beat cop Thomas (Boyd Holbrook) makes the link between the three victims and after finding a forth still alive they have a clue only to find everything is much more complicated than they ever thought because the Jane Doe (Cleopatra Coleman) know who Tom is and that his daughter is about to be born.   

In the Shadow of the Moon. Image Credit: Netflix.
Boyd Holbrook has to do a lot of the emotional heavy lifting in the episode and is more than up to the task. Image Credit: Netflix.

Now before we move on, I should say that because of the nature of this film and how it is structured, there is no way that we can talk about it before immediately heading into spoiler territory. With that in mind, I’m going to give some brief non-spoiler comments here, and then after this paragraph [FULL SPOILERS] will be in effect. There are a lot of strengths in this film, and one of the key ones is acting. Some characters have to go to really dark places and I think they pull it off. However, it does meander a bit after it has revealed its hand, and I don’t think it quite got the nuance that it was going for. It has some issues, but if you like crime films, with some light genre themes, then this is going to be for you. 

One of the things that the film needed in order to sell its premise is good acting, and this is one of their strengths. Boyd Holbrook is one of those actors that has been in some really good supporting roles and I have been wait for him to really let it fly in a lead role. He nails it here as a man whose life is slowly unravelling as the drive to solve a case alienates everyone around him. Right at the start of the film his character Thomas has the best and worst night in his life, a night that will chart the rest of the course of the film. There is so much pain on those moments where your greatest joy reminds you of your greatest loss. He is able to play Thomas with conviction across the timeline and that is a real credit to him.

In the Shadow of the Moon. Image Credit: Netflix.
Cleopatra Coleman is an instant presence in the film. Image Credit: Netflix.

But it is not just Boyd bring their a-game, everyone is giving really interesting performances. Cleopatra Coleman as the murdering Jane Doe who brings immediate physicality to the role and I instantly want to see her in more things because I have not seen someone own being an action queen so quickly before. Even Michael C. Hall who plays Holt, Thomas’ wanker brother-in-law is great because he is owning being a wanker and it is coming from a real place.

The next strength is the story that slowly gets revealed during each 9-year jump. From the opening you do get a sense that time travel is involved in some way but not the why. Each time jump gives more and more context as the two lives intersect. I liked that we were seeing one character’s story in reverse as we went on, that is really hard to narratively pull off but they make it work. I know it is in the title, but I don’t think they needed the Moon link in the Sci-fi side of the story because it took it a little into the silly side of things. However, thankfully they keep that to a minimum. The way they revealed the story led to some real moments of tension that were great to see.  

In the Shadow of the Moon. Image Credit: Netflix.
They make the most of the time shifts with some excellent production work. Image Credit: Netflix.

From a production side of things, I really respect the amount of work that has gone into making each of those time jumps feel real to that moment. This might be the first film that I have watched that charts the full course of my life up until this point so it was kind of surreal at times. However, in the 1980s it felt like the 1980s, in the 1990s it felt like the 1990s, and so on. To make this work you need all the little small details to line up, and the art/costume/prop/sets departments should get a lot of praise for getting those details right. To add to this there were some beautifully framed moments that made me take notice throughout the film.

Where things don’t quite work as well is in the pacing and in some of the themes the film is exploring. By the time we get to 2006, it becomes really apparent what is going on, but they continue to draw it out before moving on to the one big reveal they held back. It would have been great if they had trusted their audience a bit more rather than potter around. As well as this, it is clear that they much more to say about the motivation of the “fringe group” but almost all notions about race didn’t make it to the final cut. This was really disappointing because it is clear that they had something to say and they had even set it up but they held back.

In the Shadow of the Moon. Image Credit: Netflix.
There are some moments of real emotion, wonderfully framed. Image Credit: Netflix.

In the end, do we recommend In the Shadow of the Moon? Yes, yes we do. While it is not a perfect film, it is still an interesting one. A film with good action, a strong production, and a great cast. It was also good to see an original idea in a world full of remakes. It just needed a little work here and there, but it was still a fascinating ride and look at the normal time travel film.           

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched In the Shadow of the Moon?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of In the Shadow of the Moon
Directed by
– Jim Mickle
Written by – Gregory Weidman & Geoff Tock
Music by – Jeff Grace
Cinematography by – David Lanzenberg
Edited by – Michael Berenbaum
Production/Distribution Companies – Automatik, 42, Nightshade & Netflix
– Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C. Hall, Rudi Dharmalingam, Al Maini, Quincy Kirkwood, Sarah Dugdale, Rachel Keller & Ryan Allen         
Rating – Australia: MA15+;


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