This ambitious French sci-fi parable has some quiet moments of beauty and poignancy, but otherwise it’s a long slog – and so bombastic, jejune and ill-considered that it feels far more drawn out than the 87 minutes running time would suggest. In writer-director Romain Quirot’s vision of the future, humanity has worked out how to mine an inexhaustible power supply from an astral object that happens to wander by; it is called, unimaginatively, “the red moon”. This heavenly body appears to be like the living, sentient planet in Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris (a book adapted twice, by Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh), and our hero Paul WR (Hugo Becker) can somehow sense that the red moon is quite cross with us earthlings for some reason.
That would appear to be why he refuses to fly a mission to destroy the approaching lunar body, even though, in a frankly silly plot move, he is the only person in the world that can possibly do it. Likewise, the script is vague about whether the Earth has become one huge desert that resembles Morocco because of the red moon or just due to the climate meltdown we’re already experiencing. First-time director Quirot is clearly more interested in making points about the dysfunctional family dynamics Paul grew up with: a mum who died when he was young, a distracted science genius dad (Jean Reno, wasted here). There’s also an older brother named Eliott (Paul Hamy) who uses his psychic powers to persuade people to kill themselves.
Instead of the big mission, Paul goes on the run to search for a mysterious forest for no very clear reason. He teams up with a pretty, gamine young woman (Lya Oussadit-Lessert) who he meets at a rest stop where he tries to get a new battery for his electric hover car. These cars, you see, are supposed to float above the ground thanks to the mysterious energy source harvested from the red moon. They look good in the VFX long shots but Quirot never explains why they rock around when they’re driving, just like any old banger with four wheels would. The inattention to detail is what makes this feel like a triumph of style over content, and not in a good way.