Liz’s Interview: ‘The Moment’ Director Jane Weinstock

We trust what we see with our eyes. They are our tool to navigate through the world. What happens when your eyes deceive you? In Jane Weinstock’s The Moment, an international photojournalist Lee (Jennifer Jason Leigh) begins an affair with a writer she meets in a rehab center. John (Martin Henderson) has a rough past and after they break up, John mysteriously vanishes. This pushes Lee’s fragile psyche over the edge. Her ex-husband and daughter (Alia Shawkat) admit her to get help. In sessions with her therapist (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) Lee begins to have flashes of what may or may not be memories of the the night before John went missing. Can she trust herself? The film jumps in time and the audience is left with a labyrinthine puzzle to piece together. Jennifer is haunting in her quiet reflection. The photography in the movie is stunning and personal.

I was able to sit down with Jane and discuss the movie. Here are the top 10 highlights from my interview.

  1. One of the inspirations for the film is a book called The Mother’s Recompense, by Edith Warton, in which a mother and daughter are both in love with the same man.
  2. Jane credits Jennifer with coming up with the idea to present the film out of order. She knew Jennifer was also a pro behind the camera and allowed her into the editing room. Jane admits that there was something not quite right for her when approaching the original idea of telling the story in chronological order. The entire film would be drastically different had it not been for Jennifer’s ideas.
  3. The film deal with mental illness. A huge issue today is being brought to the forefront. It’s done carefully and with grace.
  4. The Moment is open to interpretation. Jane wants each individual viewer to walk away questioning what they’ve just seen. Very successful.
  5. The characters are complex and flawed. Well fleshed out, real people that were extraordinarily engaging to follow.
  6. In the therapy sessions, Marianne wanted to take notes during her scenes. Jane told her just to listen. It was an incredible powerful direction on her part and one that translates intensity through Marianne’s acting chops beautifully.
  7. The still photos that appear in the movie as well as in the credits are shot by Jane’s own husband as well as The New York Times war photojournalist, Lyndsey Addario. She was actually one of the four journalists captured in Libya in 2011. She is now safe and sound and currently based in London.
  8. Jane co-wrote, produced, and directed The Moment. It is her sophomore feature. Of the three hats she wears in her career, directing is by far her favorite. She actually went to school for law but decided that Film Studies was more her cup of tea. She was teaching, writing and had gotten as far as her dissertation when she realized that she wanted to make films and officially switched to being a Film Major. She took directing classes and then felt she knew too little about the mind of the actor. She attended acting classes and directed in a few in order to understand the group of people who would become her greatest ally.
  9. She was lucky enough to work with the Sundance Lab. For one month, she took a script, shot scenes, edited them, all under the guidance of incredible mentors like Sam Waterston, Denzel Washington and Joan Tewkesbury.
  10. Jane has a new project in the works set in the sexual revolution of the 70’s. It will be centered around a family with a multiple narrative style. She sounds excited about the script and I am personally intrigued by the idea.

The Moment is in theaters now. Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Martin Henderson, Alia Shawkat, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Meat Loaf.

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About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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