Jeanie Lim, Josh McHugh, Troy Hatt, Ricky Pak, Harmony He, Hana Wu, Audrey Cain
G. Wilson, Shu Zhu
"Moth" Explores Ego Death, Spiritual Nirvana
An AFI Thesis film co-written and directed by Shu Zhu, Moth is such an absorbing, engaging cinematic effort that one almost feels a sense of relief that the up-and-coming Zhu has, in fact, already quite extraordinary experiences as an assistant for Martin Scorsese's Sikelia Productions and Chinese artist He Xiangyu after which she co-founded the boutique production company NoFace Productions.
A Directing Fellow at AFI Conservatory Class of 2018 and a graduate of NYU's Film and TV Production Program, Zhu exhibits here the kind of cinematic vision and insight that is rare even amongst experienced directorial vets. It's a thoughtful film that is deeply felt, a spiritually insightful film that places universal themes into the persona of Christine (Jeanie Lim), an Asian-American actress working tirelessly to combat the fading reality of her Hollywood career. Christine relentlessly keeps chasing what she believes to be her dream, much like a moth to a flame, while her entire being begins to deconstruct itself destined either for complete deterioration or spiritual transformation.
Moth is exquisitely directed, a rare short film where frame by frame is filled with intentional imagery and relevant language that looks and feels like it means something both to the story and the bigger picture that is unfolding. It helps, of course, that lead Jeanie Lim's performance here is so absolutely sublime that you can't help but become enveloped by Zhu's painstakingly created world.
Music by Xueran Chen is serves as a perfect companion for the film, while Ayinde Anderson's lensing practically unravels itself inside the chaotic, fractured world in which Christine finds herself while following her along the journey she is about to undertake. Harshita Reddy's production design makes extraordinary use of color, at times the colorful world in which Christine finds herself practically bashing against her psyche' as we begin to realize that sometimes what we believe frees us only serves to imprison us.
Intentionally yet subtly infusing Moth with elements of Buddhism, Zhu avoids easy answers in favor of spiritual truths wrapped tightly by a commitment to love and a commitment to inner peace within Christine and within the very foundation of Moth. Moth is a film that you'll find yourself thinking about long after the closing credits have rolled, most likely wanting to watch it again to discover its magically woven truths one more time.
For more information on Moth, visit the film's official website linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic