Simenon story with Simon Callow, Bruno Todeschini and Mercè Pons. Generally seen as a less successful Villaronga, but this commissioned work – a detective film about the death of a film distributor – offers plenty of (viewing) fun. Largely situated on Tahiti.
Moon Child sadly failed at the box office, turning Villaronga overnight from boy wonder into unemployable auteur maudit. Several attempted projects during the first half of the 1990s – e.g. adaptations of novels by Mercè Rodoreda (La mort i la primavera, 1986) and Hanns Heinz Ewers (Der Zauberlehrling oder Die Teufelsjäger, 1909) – had proved unrealizable. To keep on working, he accepted this commission and did a decent craftsman’s job with Simenon’s Le passager clandestin, a 1947 mystery set in part on a South Sea island. From this story about the death of a movie distribution magnate, the aftermath was inevitable. Yet Villaronga had to accept what he was handed (plot was never Simenon’s strength). The direction, on the other hand, shows a master at play, especially when there’s no dialogue to deal with and everything depends on visual storytelling or just sheer pictorial splendour. –Rotterdam
He has been active as a director, screenwriter and actor since 1976. His oeuvre consists of four short films, five fiction films, two television films, two documentaries and two episodes for Spanish television series. Villaronga’s impressive full-length film debut Tras el cristal (1987) is still seen as a controversial work. He has also made strong films with a surreal edge, such as El nino de la luna (with a soundtrack by Dead Can Dance and a lead role for the band’s singer Lisa Gerrard, 1989), El mar (2000) and Aro Tolbukhin. En la mente del asesino (2002), all of which are bringing increasing international recognition for Villaronga’s work. His new film Pa negre (2010) had its premiere in competition at the San Sebastian film festival, and won a Silver Shell for actress Nora Navas. –Rotterdam