Moon Students (2023)

Moon Students (2023)

A white savior story masquerading as an empowering film



United States of America
B.A. Tobin, Cedrick Terrell, Eddie Navarro
109 min


A movie about social justice somehow manages to center on an old white man, why am I not surprised?

What it's about

When an altercation between a college professor and his Latino student causes the latter to get kicked out, his girlfriend investigates the real cause of the fight and pushes for reconciliation amidst COVID outbreaks and student protests.

The take

There is a version of Moon Students that solely focuses on the students of color themselves, victims of racial profiling and injustice, instead of their white teacher and his overbearing white guilt. That would’ve been a slightly better movie to watch, but even then, Moon Students seems broken beyond repair. The film is riddled with technical blunders. The timeframe is confusing, the pacing is off, and the dialogue is unrealistic (and unintentionally funny, because what young person actually says, with full sincerity, “You know what time is it? Party time!”). The actors deserve credit for breathing a bit of life into a limp script, and the cinematography can be nice at times—fuzzy and hazy like an LA dream. But the film’s misguided sense of justice ultimately brings it down.

What stands out

The film tries to tie everything around the moon. Countless metaphors are made about the moon’s glow and white privilege, but these connections are hazy at best and forced at worst. The girlfriend, Lita (Sydney Carvill), sees the moon as one thing while the professor, Ethan (Nicholas Thurkettle), sees it as another, and even though the movie milks every possible meaning out of the satellite it can’t seem to come up with an important message of its own. The imagery of the moon adds intrigue and mystique, but beyond that, it doesn’t serve a significant (much less recognizable) purpose.

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