Genre: Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 24 min.
Release Date: February 21st, 2023 MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Deborah Richards Actors: Cat Lellie, Nic Roylance, Amanda Forstrom, Layla Campbell, Staci Dickerson, Sophia Battinus, Benedikt Negro
as Vegas real estate agent Jenna Anderson (Cat Lellie) suddenly walks away from her life, abandoning her career, her apartment, and her relationships. Shuffling backward in time to the day before her spontaneous uprooting, she spills some woes in a group therapy session, confiding that she’s often thought about buying a gun to end it all. Though she manages to show a magnificent penthouse to prospective clients that morning, she’s barely able to conceal her lack of emotional control when it comes to coping with the loss of her daughter, Gigi (Sophia Battinus), about two years prior (transfixed, she makes uncomfortable comments in front of her boss [Staci Dickerson] and the potential buyers).
This episode leads to her forsaking all normal foundations, keeping nothing but a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a yoga mat, venturing out to nomadically wander the sidewalks and parks, without a plan. Flashbacks steadily fill in the details of the incident that led to her daughter’s death (which turns out to be largely unconvincing), while voiceover narration spells out Jenna’s internal feelings of pain, guilt, and despair. But subsistence on the unforgiving streets only seems to bring threats of assault and discomfort and disregard; as a self-inflicted castoff from society, she has significantly fewer ways to deal with her psychological traumas. “What happens in Vegas …”
Jenna’s odyssey is inherently sad, but her decisions and misadventures aren’t particularly unique or inspiring. She’s too unprepared and naive to toss away all support systems and structure; this isn’t the believable tale of a pitiable soul’s steady financial decline into abject poverty, nor is it a saga of mental deterioration leading to societal renunciation. It’s difficult to sympathize with a character’s deliberate choices when they so obviously contribute to personal detriment. Her wits and comprehension appear entirely too intact for this level of dejection.
“Don’t trust anybody out here. You’re alone.” Unlike the main character’s design and situation, the supporting persona of Nic Lionheart (Nic Roylance) has a sincerer story, while also offering up a more complex, intelligent, compassionate perspective on his utter impoverishment. But it’s not just the roles here that tend to hold nominal interest; the dialogue is also rough, resorting to idioms, generic phrases, and trite observations, all of which prevent a clear genuineness. The majority of the film can’t escape the feeling that it’s exactly that: actors being directed in scenes. No one disappears into their roles; no scenario overwhelms with an authenticity that makes viewers temporarily forget a passive position in merely watching connected actions.
As much as “Move Me No Mountain” surely wishes to impart its empathetic viewpoint (on loss, grief, and mental health, among other things) and shed some light on a forgotten people, it ends up mostly just emphasizing depressing themes and imagery; redemptive qualities in its narrative, in the acting, and with its editing are exceptionally limited. It’s a nicely shot endeavor, but it continuously battles with a reason for its own existence, well-intentioned as it may be; the basic concepts, as written and directed by Deborah Richards, are never wholly original, poignant, powerful, or, perhaps most problematically, entertaining. The conclusion is moderately agreeable, but in arriving at that point, it must embrace terribly unrealistic, highly contrived developments. It ought to end the way that it does, cinematically shifting tragedy into fulfillment, but the journey is tremendously ineffectual.
– Mike Massie