Moth

By Allyn Quigley | Drama
A taxi driver sees the man who killed his daughter in a car accident. So he follows him home.

Ciaran is a taxi driver just returning to work after a tragic loss. His daughter has recently died from a car accident, and the driver has walked away with no punishment. His first night is a dark, lonely one as he drives through the streets of his town, picking up sometimes troubled passengers at their most vulnerable point.

But then one of his fellow drivers has news: they spotted the driver who killed Ciaran's daughter at a club. Ciaran decides to find him. And then, in the cloak of night, he tracks down his daughter's killer to his home and enters.

Written and directed by Allyn Quigley, this cerebral, meticulous crafted short drama has both a naturalism capturing the loneliness and solitude of a parent's profound grief and an intriguingly thoughtful riff on the thriller. The two genres intersect with fascinating, compelling resonance, forming a powerful psychological portrait that goes deep with an almost poetic, pared-down stillness.

In its style and aesthetics, the film feels dark, remote and cloistered, with its murky shadows, laconic dialogue and minimalist storytelling. Many of the shots are essentially moving shadows, with characters in them less like physical presences and more like ghostly outlines. The very sensory experience of the film evokes the haunted nature of a grieving father locked in his pain, and his presence is cold, distant and unnervingly quiet.

But the essentials are captivating, and they're laid out in such elegantly taut directing and editing that they create a haunting tension. As Ciaran follows the young man whose carelessness took his daughter from him, the obvious narrative question is whether or not Ciaran will confront the person who killed his daughter -- and whether or not that confrontation will be a vengeful one. In its slow-burn storytelling, this question keeps viewers hooked, bringing momentum to the narrative's final movements.

Actor Gary Lydon offers less of a performance than an embodiment in the first half of the film, and his presence has a distinct ominousness. Visually, he's often shrouded in shadows, and his intent reads as mysterious and sometimes sinister. But as the film winds to its climax and Ciaran's final choice, it segues into a subtle, unexpected direction, pulling us into the cool light of morning. And in a brief but moving scene, it reveals Ciaran for what he is: a parent going through a tragic loss, struggling with the enormity of those emotions.

With its well-sculpted atmosphere of uneasy dread and its undertow of suspense, "Moth" could easily work as a thriller. But in the end, the film is too thoughtful, intelligent and ultimately empathetic to go for the cheap hit of adrenaline. In doing so, it becomes something more profound: an evocation of how trauma, grief and loss can pull us through dark emotional territory, where normality feels far away and the lens through which we perceive the world becomes fogged and uncertain. It would be so easy to lose ourselves in this terrain, and for a night, perhaps Ciaran almost loses who he is. But ultimately we learn to face our deepest grief, because that's the only way we can receive true comfort.




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