DIFF ’09 Review: Moon
Original and thought-provoking science fiction films don’t come along often, but ‘Moon’ ranks among them and proves that some of the best films come outside of Hollywood. The debut by newcomer Duncan Jones is brilliant and atmospheric, featuring a master-class performance by Sam Rockwell as an isolated man. Set in a future world where energy [...]
Original and thought-provoking science fiction films don’t come along often, but ‘Moon’ ranks among them and proves that some of the best films come outside of Hollywood. The debut by newcomer Duncan Jones is brilliant and atmospheric, featuring a master-class performance by Sam Rockwell as an isolated man.
Set in a future world where energy has been depleted from Earth and forced us to look at the moon to mine energy, it follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who has been contracted for three years to stay on the moon and administer the mining operation from his space station. His only partner is a sophisticated robot computer known as GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). As his three year contract nears the end and he anxiously awaits return back to Earth, things take a turn for the worse. He begins to have visions of a mysteriously lady, reports of a crash outside reveal something sinister, and Sam begins to realize not all is what it seems.
If the latter half of that plot description sounds vague, it is because I don’t want to spoil the surprises the movie has in store for the audience. It is best to go into the movie knowing as little as possible. The first thing one would notice about the film is the ambition of the filmmaker that is evident in its concept and execution. The film is not a product of the Hollywood mainstream and Duncan Jones makes it clear why. How many movies have you seen that feature and man and a computer for the majority of it? Add to that the fact that it is set in one location and that location is the moon? Add to that a number of offbeat sci-fi elements and you’ve got yourself a movie that is proud to be a product of independent cinema.
But despite that, influences are visible. There is a striking similarity and homages to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, the sense of isolation from Solaris is present among others. But using these visual inspirations, Duncan Jones crafts an original story about the how far loneliness can take you. Trying to review this film without spoiling any of its plot points is a hard task so I’ll just say everything that takes place is not only unpredictable but also clever and fresh considering the glut of sci-fi movies that our generation has seen.
Sam Rockwell gives one of the best performances of the year and proves that he is a top class actor capable of carrying a film smoothly. Here, he goes through every stage and emotional range you can think of and in a movie where one has to face a single character for 1 hour 30 minutes, he does an outstanding job with it grasping the viewer’s attention throughout. Rockwell’s touching moments towards the third act of the film are of particular note.
Having said all that, the film is not for everyone. The pacing is deliberate and slow with the focus being more on the tension and atmosphere than moving the plot forward. The reason being that the plot itself is an episode worth of material, it’s the execution here that makes it work as a feature film although some viewers may be irked by the pacing. The film could also be a draining experience for many since its set in one location and seeing an actor talk to himself for the majority of the film isn’t everyone’s idea of entertainment.
All in all, Moon is a brilliant piece of original sci-fi that goes to show that strong concepts are still present in film. It not only is a showcase of Sam Rockwell’s acting prowess but also a perfect launch pad for Duncan Jones’ career.