From Adolescence to Adulthood
In “Moss” director Daniel Peddle looks at the transition from adolescence to adulthood and the awkwardness that goes along with it. While the physical transformation has occurred, the emotional side of things tends to lag behind. We often think that we are men before actually becoming so. Maturity is a non-linear path with many detours and regressions.
On his 18th birthday, Moss (Mitchell Slaggert) is ready to leave home and start a new life. He hopes to escape from what his father (Billy Ray Suggs) who he sees as oppressive. He lives in an isolated southern community where there are more alligators than Life in no way appears to be easy for Moss but he sees and adds an inherent beauty and simplicity to his existence. Moss and his friends don’t have much in the way of worldly possessions but they do have a generosity and sense of calm unlike suburban America. In many ways the inhabitants of this rustic riverside community are far richer they realize. Moss’s father is an outsider artist who collects driftwood to make his pieces.
The film has a natural tone and an other worldly quality that explodes with color. Director Peddle immerses us in the country world of the South and a day in the life of 18-year old Moss, complete with the river, the woods, the quiet and the isolation, while exploring the ideas of self-discovery, identity, love, and loss.
Mitchell Slaggert delivers an unforgettable performance steeped in quiet reflection. Joining Slaggert as Moss’ best friend, Blaze (Dorian Cobb), outgoing yin to Moss’s introspective yang. Expanding the world of young Moss is the mysterious Mary (Christine Marzano).
This is a lush, lyrical look at the “gothic” South, with its breathtaking blue skies, silken waters and green grasses of the region, all laced with the shadows and weight of life.
At first, it’s difficult to follow since the film is quiet, filled with restraint and compelling but unfocused in narrating a fateful day for Moss. The story takes place on Moss’ 18th birthday. His mother died giving birth to him, triggering a rift between the young guy and his father. Moss’ birthday only reminds his father to the grief he’s been denying all the time. The film deals with the boy’s new responsibility as a young adult to deliver meds to his grandmother; but, he’s drifted between temptation of immaturity, the search for adulthood.
All the conflicts are episodically presented in a single day, as the film introduces battles inside Moss. First, Moss battles over his immaturity upon visiting Blaze who lives on a raft. Then, the film introduces Mary, a much older woman which triggers something inside Moss—between sexual awakening and forever longing for motherly love. Practically, it should be a film about Moss, but, Moss often strays from its main focuses to follow some other characters with apparently no definite motive.
Peddle knows what he wants to convey in this bitter coming-of-age drama, but he simply cannot resist his desire to project his visions without considering the missing links.