Tired Moonlight features a story only in the loosest sense of the word. Producer, writer, director, editor (whew!) Britni West shot the film in her hometown, Kalispell, Montana, and featured local actors as extras. The principal characters are almost all transplants from Minnesota (where West currently resides), but you’d only know it by reading the production notes. Tired Moonlight is so unhurried and observational, and the characters are so oblique to the kind of people we usually see in movies, the film feels like a documentary.
Like David Gordon Green’s George Washington or Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, Tired Moonlight is deeply rooted in its setting and keenly aware of the way that setting impacts the personalities of the people who live there. The film takes time to show how they eat, where they work, and what they do in their leisure time. The film honors the small Montana community by making their daily struggles as vital as any in cinema. It never strays into parody or mockery.
Most poignantly—and most like George Washington and Killer of Sheep—Tired Moonlight spends time with children. Most movies overlook children entirely. Tired Moonlight knows children are the life of any community. They are both a reminder of the limitations of the present and hope for the future. Children are free, unaware of the trials inherent in the world around them, and yet they suggest an urgent need to make a better life.
All of the characters in Tired Moonlight are looking for a better life. In that, the film is stereotypically American. Old flames reignite promising new life. Disasters happen, forcing them to regroup and readjust their plans. Loneliness is common; love is more common still. Through it all the land itself perseveres and grants the grace it has to give to the people who live on it. In all, there is beauty in Tired Moonlight – in the people, in the place they live, and in the patient, loving way they are featured in this film.
Tired Moonlight is being featured in the 38th Denver Film Festival. More information and showtimes can be found here.