Directed by Simon Ennis. PG. 80 min. Opens Feb. 8 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.
There’s one thing that the subjects of Simon Ennis’s Lunarcy! share besides an all-consuming passion for the moon: the feeling that we’ve somehow missed out on a future that we were promised. Here we are, well into the 21st century, and yet we still can’t take an elevator to the sky and enjoy weekend getaways at a Howard Johnson lunar resort. Instead, our prospects for travel beyond this godforsaken planet have dimmed considerably—hell, we don’t even have jetpacks to get to the mall.
Seeing as NASA is a shell of its Cold War-era self, and even American astronauts have to buy tickets on Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station, the task of building this future is now up to the visionaries we meet in this often wryly comic but very warm-hearted documentary. Along with one genuine space traveller (Apollo 12 crew member Alan Bean), the gallery of lunar obsessives includes Dennis Hope, a savvy entrepreneur who’s already sold off vast areas of real estate on the moon, and Christopher Carson, a young man determined to be the first resident of a future colony he calls Luna City. However far-fetched their schemes may initially seem, the rationales behind them—and the enthusiasm with which they’re delivered—are more compelling than you may expect. (For instance, all that land will be tremendously valuable once scientists figure out how to tap the energy potential of the moon’s abundant supply of helium isotopes.)
With its savvy use of archival footage and eagerness to let the film’s subjects reveal themselves at their own pace, Ennis’s first non-fiction effort after the Toronto filmmaker’s underrated 2009 comedy, You Might As Well Live, is reminiscent of Errol Morris’s most light-hearted studies of earthbound eccentrics. Through his portraits of these men and their big dreams, Ennis is able to craft a wider, richer commentary on human aspiration and limitation. That’s no substitute for a holiday on the edge of the Sea of Tranquility, but it’ll do for now.