It doesn’t matter if your personalities are different, so long as your souls are compatible. When Lev (Bret Roberts) and Frankie (Amy Seimetz) meet at a bar, they are instantly drawn to one another. At first, Lev resists Frankie. Or at least it seems like that’s what’s happening. But Frankie soon learns that Lev is a hyper-introvert and she becomes even more determined to make him a part of her life. They know each other immediately, without needing to reveal themselves in words. But two broken people do not necessarily become whole just by falling in love.
Writer/Director Tomer Almagor’s debut film is an uncommon love story that is driven by complex characters that need each other more than they realize. The odds are certainly stacked against them. Frankie has a bit of a drinking problem, driven by insecurity. She is a gregarious, empathetic and creative person but she thinks so little of herself that she shrugs off an acquaintance rape as if she had it coming. Lev is a free spirit who loves Frankie but isn’t used to considering the feelings of another with his every day decisions (i.e. getting a drink with co-workers instead of coming home for dinner). They also don’t have any cheerleaders on the sidelines. Lev’s supposed best friend dismisses Frankie as a “Train Wreck” and all but tells him to break up with her.
Frankie doesn’t seem to have any real friends outside of Lev either. She occupies her time fixing up junk that she finds on the side of the road and then selling it, yard sale style. When she tells Lev that she does this to stave off the loneliness, he earnestly responds that she shouldn’t be lonely since she has him, despite the fact that he is constantly at work. Granted, his work is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to produce the comeback record for hipster country legend Charlie King Nash (Donal Logue). But he doesn’t see how much she needs him until an irreparable tragedy has torn them further apart.
Amy Seimetz was the perfect choice to play Frankie. She’s beautiful, but she has a relatable quality and isn’t afraid to be truly vulnerable. If “It Girl” is still a thing, it definitely describes Seimetz, who has been popping up everywhere both in front of and behind the camera. Despite her youth, she currently has 48 IMDb acting credits including “The Off Hours,” “You’re Next,” TV’s “The Killing,” Lena Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture” and “Upstream Color.” She also wrote and directed her first feature, “Sun Don’t Shine,” to much critical acclaim. She has shown an incredible amount of versatility in her roles and she deserves to be a household name.
Bret Roberts is equally at home with his character. Lev is a tortured musician, but it’s not just a façade. It’s probably not a coincidence that Lev is a Jim Morrison doppelganger (though Roberts did portray the Lizard King in another film). Though neither Frankie nor the audience can always tell what is going on in his brooding head, Lev’s love for Frankie cannot be concealed. It’s not anything he says. It’s all in his eyes. The man is a Mumblecore director’s dream.
“9 Full Moons” is full of complex characterizations, which is part of what makes it so special. You can’t sum up Lev or Frankie in a couple of words. They are real people who are trying to stay true to themselves whilst attempting to figure out how to navigate a stable relationship. Though their love is pure and simple, their lives certainly are not. Almagor has stated that the script is based off of his real-life relationship. Though the details are fictionalized, he has managed to keep all of the nuances that make up two people struggling to find their place in the world. It’s a beautiful film and I look forward to seeing what else he can do.