Review: It’s difficult to grasp what Daniel Peddle’s Southern coming-of-age drama, Moss, tries to emanate. Shot in the midst of lush Pleasure Island, North Carolina with casts of local people (who mostly have no acting resume), this film remains quiet, restraint, compelling but unfocused in narrating a fateful day for the titular protagonist.
The story only revolves on a single day, which happens to be Moss’ (Mitchell Slaggert) 18th birthday. Moss’ mother died giving birth to him, triggering a rift between the young guy and his father (Billy Ray Suggs). Moss’ birthday only reminds his father to the grief he’s been denying all the time. Moss deals with the boy’s newly responsibility as a young adult to deliver meds to his grandmother; but, he’s drifted between the temptation of immaturity, the search for maternal figure and his responsibility.
Peddle films Moss as if he’s making an unsung poetry of isolated youth. The premise and the intention were good in creating an abstract tension inside the confused Moss. 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 (Dorian Cobb) who lives on a raft. Then, the film introduces one significant character (possibly the most intriguing character in Moss), Mary (Christine Marzano), 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 during the fateful day with apparently no definite motive.
There might be some confusion on how some elements made way into the story, e.g., Moss’ owl which lives in a cage and Blaze’s floating house. While both things might imply something in the end, it’s hard to correlate the whole thing to the story in the first place. The best way to make sense most of peculiar decisions in Moss is to consider it as a part of the poetry in motion. Daniel 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.