Review: New Zealand Film 'Insatiable Moon'   15 Oct 2010

It’s a small film but The Insatiable Moon just might be the feel-good movie of 2010.

Joseph Hoye

In a London screening in conjunction with Mental Health Day, New Zealand's The Insatiable Moon delighted a sell-out audience in advance of its 2011 general release in the UK.

Made on an ever-shrinking budget, this New Zealand film should become one of our cinematic treasures. Initially bankrolled to the tune of NZ$6 million, the final budget was a mere $500,000 after a deal fell through. It is difficult to fathom why the New Zealand Film Commission pulled out of funding The Insatiable Moon, as it is a wee gem of a movie.

First-time feature director Rosemary Liddell has allowed her actors to grow into their roles and has succeeded in creating a slice of New Zealand cinematic magic. The cast, led by Kiwi icon Rawiri Paratene, deliver strong performances in this tale about Arthur, the second son of God.

Based on the New Zealand novel by Mike Riddell, Ponsonby resident Arthur knows that he is Jesus’ brother. That he might be crazy doesn’t phase him at all. That he cares deeply for his friends and community is beyond doubt.
This is a film with love at its core, though it's no Notting Hill or Ghost. Instead, we are honoured to share the lives of men for whom communal life in a half-way house is their only chance of approaching normalcy. Those lives are threatened when the hostel receives a closure notice.

Rawiri Paratene shines as Arthur, bringing dignity to what could have been just another laugh-at-the-unfortunates flick. Instead, we share, however briefly, the confusion and horror as well as the humour that is life for someone who has yo-yoed in and out of New Zealand's psychiatric institutions throughout his life. The supporting cast are just as good.

For me, New Zealand stalwarts Ian Mune and Greg Johnson produced the stand-out performances in The Insatiable Moon. In an understated performance as alcoholic Norm, Mune is perhaps the conscience of the film. He expresses our horror as events move towards the inevitable and there is something within his brokenness that suggests we are all redeemable – that there is hope for us all. Johnson, meanwhile, gives an over-the-top performance as the grumpy hostel owner, Bob. It has been a long time since I have seen an actor portray so much compassion while insulting everyone about him.

If The Insatiable Moon has a flaw as a film, it would have to be its failure to fall into a particular category. This is not an easy film to pigeon-hole. It treats the subject of mental instability with humour and compassion, it does not shy away from the ugly side of mental health issues and it remains thoroughly entertaining. It points out that Community Care by definition needs a community to show that it cares, that the people who live on the outskirts of society are still members of that society and that no matter how tragic our circumstances may be, there is always something that will remind us to smile. That said, you cannot accuse The Insatiable Moon of being cerebral. This is New Zealand cinema at its most entertaining.

The film screening at London’s Haymarket Cineworld was followed by a well attended Q&A session with Mike and Rosemary Riddell and Rawiri Paratene. The three received much praise for the film but also came under fire from a gentleman who had spent much of his life in psychiatric institutions, prompting Mr Paratene to declare it the best Q&A session he had ever participated in.

The Insatiable Moon is out in cinemas in New Zealand now and will be released in the UK early next year. The adversity that the film makers had to overcome is alone worthy of our support. That this is a highly entertaining story should make it an unmissable event and it can only be hoped that the New Zealand Film Commission will see fit to help it gain the exposure it so richly deserves. If you live in the UK, see it soon. If you’re in New Zealand, see it now.

The Insatiable Moon Interview

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share


Hilary Timmins' Award-Winning UK Documentary Series To Inspire NZ Students

29 Jun 2020 Education
Dream Catchers, produced and directed by Hilary Timmins, celebrates the success stories of more than thirty inspirational New... more

New Zealand reaffirms support for Flight MH17 judicial process

7 Mar 2020 News By Rt HON WINSTON PETERS
Ahead of the start of the criminal trial in the Netherlands on 9 March, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the need to... more


NZ Government's Economic package to fight COVID-19

17 Mar 2020 Business News By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government has launched the most significant peace-time economic plan in modern New Zealand history to cushion the... more

NZ Government announces aviation relief package

19 Mar 2020 Business News By Hon Phil Twyford
Transport Minister Phil Twyford today outlined the first tranche of the $600 million aviation sector relief package announced earlier... more


The Serious Road Trip: how one Kiwi woman’s Big OE took her into a war zone

18 Jun 2020 Review By Charlotte Everett
I was delighted to receive in the post a new book to review. Simone van Kan’s The Serious Road Trip was a decent-sized... more

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern records reading for Westminster Abbey podcast

24 Apr 2020 ANZAC
The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, has recorded a poem for Westminster Abbey’s new podcast... more


Fairer rules for tenants and landlords

17 Nov 2019 Property By Minister Kris Faafoi
17 NOVEMBER 2019 The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer... more

New Zealand Government will not implement a Capital Gains Tax

17 Apr 2019 Property By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The Coalition Government will not proceed with the Tax Working Group’s recommendation for a capital gains tax, Jacinda Ardern... more


Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued

19 Nov 2019 Migration By Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
19 NOVEMBER 2019 We’ve improved border security with the NZeTA, New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which helps us to... more

Christchurch reinstated as refugee settlement location

18 Aug 2018 Migration
18 AUGUST 2018 HON IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY The announcement that Christchurch can once again be a settlement location for refugees... more


Gallipoli Anzac Day services cancelled

19 Mar 2020 Travel & Tourism By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
The New Zealand and Australian Governments have announced this year’s joint Anzac Day services at Gallipoli will be cancelled... more

New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas

19 Mar 2020 Travel & Tourism
New Zealanders advised not to travel overseas more


The Skipper's Diary: Sir Richard Hadlee honouring his father and NZ's Forty-Niners

27 Oct 2019 Cricket By Charlotte Everett
NZNewsUK London Editor Charlotte Everett spoke to Sir Richard Hadlee about why he’s chosen to publish his father’s... more

PREVIEW: All Blacks v England semi-final

26 Oct 2019 Rugby
The two most convincing quarterfinals winners are set to square off in a semifinal showdown for the ages when the All Blacks meet old... more


Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

Congratulations to Loder Cup winner

26 Sep 2018 People By Hon Eugenie Sage
25 SEPTEMBER 2018 The Loder Cup, one of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, has been awarded to Robert McGowan for 2018... more

Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

16 Aug 2018 Appointments
16 AUGUST 2018Appointments to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO HON JENNY SALESA Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa is... more


Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

14 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more

Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers

22 Aug 2018 Recruitment By RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
14 AUGUST 2018Historic pay equity settlement for education support workers RT HON JACINDA ARDERN HON CHRIS HIPKINS Prime Minister The... more