Move Me No Mountain is written and directed by Deborah Richards. While the filmmaker has a number of shorts and one segment of an anthology to her name, this drama is her feature-length debut. Is it the start of a promising new career or another lump of coal for the dustbin?
Jenna (Cat Lellie) is a loving mom with a good career as a real estate agent in and around Las Vegas. However, her world is shattered when her daughter is violently killed. This sends the lady onto the streets, where she can dwell on the incident and grieve. While homeless, Jenna makes a few friends, including The Captain (Scott Ables) and Zebra Head (Zachariah Moyes). However, Jenna forms an especially close relationship with Nick (Nicholas Roylance), who was displaced by a wildfire destroying his home.
Jenna’s world gets thrown for a loop when she meets the young Lizbeth (Layla Campbell). The girl is sweet and loves her dog, though it ran away. She’s on the streets with Ruth (Amanda Forstorm), a Bible-quoting maniac who freaks out on anyone for any reason. Throughout all this, Jenna’s mental state deteriorates as she relives her daughter’s horrific death, causing her to contemplate suicide more than once.
Move Me No Mountain is an ambitious look at what grief can do to a person. By all accounts, Jenna had it together until her child was taken away from her. This focused character study is immediately gripping. Richards instantly builds sympathy for her lead, while also creating (mostly) realistic scenarios she’d find herself in. The story is phenomenal from start to finish, with every scene proving necessary.
“…Jenna’s mental state deteriorates as she relives her daughter’s horrific death…”
To that end, it is crucial that Lellie delivers a heighten, empathetic performance to match the emotional beats of the script. Happily, her acting here will go down as one of the best of the year. She carries the heartbreak, anger, and depression believably. There’s a scene where Jenna admits to Nick that she wishes she had the courage to kill herself. It’s a startling revelation, and yet, somehow makes perfect sense. Lellie delivers the line perfectly. Roylance is also quite good, and the two share excellent chemistry.
Forstorm will give some folks nightmares with her over-the-top and creepy portrayal of the volatile Ruth. Campbell is charming and sweet, making viewers instantly want to see her in a better situation. The supporting cast also turns in swell performances.
But what makes Move Me No Mountain true art in every sense is the cinematography. Richards served as director of photography on top of her other duties (including editors) and alternates between dreamy and grimy imagery. The scene of Jenna floating in a pool bathed in light is stunning. Contrast that with the dingy lighting and cramped feeling of the tunnels she lives in with Zebra Head. The picture is simply beautiful to behold.
Move Me No Mountain is an emotional ride that exhilarates as much as it moves. The performances are perfect, and the story is heartbreaking. The cinematography is stunning and makes the film look ten times its budget. Do yourself a favor and check this out as soon as possible, you will not be disappointed.
For more information, visit the Move Me No Mountain official site.
"…an emotional ride that exhilarates as much as it moves."