Longing for acceptance, a lonely teenager with a crippling eating disorder and social anxiety must face his biggest fear. This is Kabir McNeely’s latest short film My Name Is Moe.
Eighteen months ago, we reviewed one of director Kabir McNeely’s previous films, the poignant Blue Girl. Blue Girl was filmed during the pandemic and set during a remote homeroom class lesson, which saw a shy, emotionally reserved classmate try to come out as a lesbian to her friends and teacher. Expecting love and support, she is left facing a disappointed friend (played by writer/director Kabir McNeely) and a homophobic bully. Blue Girl was a heart-warming piece of work that displayed McNeely’s directorial flair for eliciting sympathy from the audience and writing talent that shows a lot of empathy towards his characters.
Now, McNeely brings us My name is Moe – another short film based around social issues that once again showcases his ability to sensitively highlight the problems that many ordinary people suffer from. This time McNeely takes on lead actor duties and plays the titular Moe, a young first-year student lacking in self-esteem. Moe is lonely with no confidence and, to top it all off, has weight issues; all of these problems result in him living in a constant state of depression. His parents are well-meaning but seem unable to break through and are often overheard, through the thin walls by Moe, criticizing him and each other.
McNeely’s sympathetic portrayal of a troubled teen is the main hook of the film. Moe’s only friend throughout all of this, if we can call him that, is his gym teacher Coach Skip, played enthusiastically by Brandon Leland. Coach Skip is initially incredibly supportive of Moe, he is always trying to enthuse him with positivity and cajole him to work harder during lessons by instilling a can-do attitude. However, problems get worse for Moe when even his gym teacher loses patience and, during an exercise class, snaps at him; this misjudgment becomes the catalyst for Moe’s downward spiral. People like Moe need a lot of time, love, and support from patient people, and what McNeely manages to bring out in My Name is Moe is the lesson that when you are in this particular situation there are few patient people around.
Looking back over our review of Blue Girl some of the criticisms we made were mainly due to the fact that McNeely was a young inexperienced filmmaker, there were a few technical problems that affected the quality of the film and we picked up some sound issues. Kabir left us a comment online saying he would keep all these criticisms in mind for his next project. What we are happy to report is that McNeely certainly did keep them in mind as My Name is Moe is a far more accomplished film than Blue Girl, in fact, My Name Is Moe sounds, feels, and looks infinitely better; it feels more like an actual film with a plot and conclusion.
Despite My Name is Me still being small in size, McNeely manages to create a lot more scope with a number of various locations and the exterior establishing shots all helping to make the film feel larger in scale. There is no doubting McNeeIy’s improvement, it bears repeating that more experience and bigger budgets will surely come should he continue to create interesting pieces such as this.
Although My name is Moe looks at a different subject to his previous film Blue Girl, both films strengthen my feelings that McNeely is a young, talented, triple-threat filmmaker who, through making the right choices and continued improvement, could become a strong and powerful voice in the LGBTQ+ community and independent film circles.