WHEN I’M A MOTH – Review by Susan Granger

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In her memoirs, Hillary Rodham Clinton mentions that, in 1969, just after graduating from Wellesley and before entering Yale Law School, she spent her summer vacation in Valdez, Alaska, working in a fish- packing plant. She observed, “Sliming fish was pretty good preparation for life in Washington.”

Based on that slim factoid, Zachary Cotler and Magdalena Zyzak concocted this parable. They’d previously co-helmed The Wall of Mexico (2019) about rich Mexican-Americans who build a wall to keep out poor white thieves, along with Maya Dardel”= (2017), featuring Lena Olin as a poet who announces on a radio show that she plans to commit suicide.

This story begins with: “What follows is a work of fiction. So is the United States political situation.” If the filmmakers were trying to make a socio/political point, it’s too elusive to decipher.

Instead, they weave a pointless narrative about an idealistic young woman with long, blonde hair whose name is Hillary (Addison Timlin). Early on, she announces, “I’m going to be a politician. I’m on a predetermined path.”

Knowing no one, Hillary befriends two Japanese men who watch her walk home from the cannery each day. Mitsuru (Toshiji Takeshima) is a drunk but Ryohei (T.J. Kayama) pursues the relationship. Perhaps teasing, he says he’s from Nagasaki – to which she seriously replies, “I guess I’ll have to be involved in something like that (one day).”

Soulful Ryohei is smitten but self-absorbed Hillary prefers to engage in meandering conversations about human nature and her future, murmuring, “You can’t get rid of ignorance. It always seems to triumph…somehow, I feel doomed.”

The title emanates for Hillary’s self-description as “a moth that has to be in a cocoon first” before pursuing what she perceives as her destiny.

While Lyn Moncrief’s cinematography captures Alaska’s snow-capped mountains and spectacular scenery, the concept’s self-conscious pretentiousness is as off-putting as it is tedious.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, When I’m a Moth is an oddly frustrating 3, streaming on most digital platforms.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.