Low key and a little slow, Moon isn’t for everyone and may seem tailored primarily for sci-fi buffs. For me, it got better as it progressed, I was initially unsure as to what was going on, however once the plot unravels this becomes a highly effective film. Moon manages to combine a relatable story of humanity and isolation with an intriguing and deep sci-fi story, that despite originally evoking memories of 2001: A Space Odyssey turns out to be a unique adventure.
Moon is ostensibly a one-man show featuring Sam Rockwell as an astronaut sent to the moon on a three-year contract to maintain a mining station that harvests the sun’s fusion energy from moonrocks. I can’t say I’ve seen much of his work; in fact on the contrary I can only recall seeing Matchstick Men and The Assassination of Jesse James…. in which he played only supporting roles. Well in Moon, not only is he on screen for the entire run time, about 80% of it is playing opposite a computer or himself. And my oh my was I impressed; Rockwell construes every facet of human emotion, from the pressure of the task, the fear of the outcome and the desperation to get home to the sarcasm, outburst and joking around to annoy…himself. The interaction between Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell and Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell is comical and touching; really going all out to emphasise the heartbreaking realisation that is at the core of this film. Though my favourite bit by far is the ‘Walking on Sunshine’ confrontation. If I hadn’t seen many Rockwell films before, I’ll certainly be on the lookout for them now. The performance is central to the film’s success and because of the stark background of clinically white futuristic rooms or the vacuum of space, its what the audience hones in on, however his angst, joy, disbelief and emotional strength are all perfectly conveyed. My only criticism would be that because Rockwell doesn’t force his audience to feel for him, it’s something that occurs only when you take time out from the screen to examine just how lonely, terrifying, and unfair Bell’s experience is. You have to explore his plight on your own, disentangling the multitude of layers and depths swimming beneath the surface of this intricate story. Dissimilarly you can take them at face value, an aspect of the film that can potentially leave many viewers understandably unsatisfied and unmoved. Neverthless, also look out for the delectable and yet eerily robotic voice of Kevin Spacey as computer friend ‘Gerty’ and a small contribution from Skins’ Kaya Scodelairo (a.k.a Effy).
Moon is a philosophical film at heart, examining a variety of complex subjects and dilemmas with a precise and perfect manner. I loved it and was compelled as I watched it; nevertheless I also didn’t leave with a strong emotional response, despite my understanding of the broad horrors of that Sam was facing. There are no aliens, explosions or tension filled chase sequences. There is no attempt to shock or revolt us just to get a reaction. Instead we are treated as intelligent and discerning viewers with the ability to reflect on what we are seeing and our own responses to things.
I have to say that director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker put together a wonderfully rounded script, furthermore the art direction, cinematography and costume and make-up are all worthy of recognition and the camera tricks are very impressive. It’s certainly a magnificent film when compared with the ostentatious, spectacle cinema of mainstream Hollywood, demonstrating that it’s possible to retain style, depth, intelligence and quality entertainment whilst reducing the budget. This is a movie that is hard to review, since much of the plot requires the audience to go in oblivious, but it’s difficult not to recommend a movie like Moon. This was refreshing and interesting, offering a subject matter that resonated with you long after. A cinematic rarity, it’s a well made, adequately thought provoking, proper science-fiction movie.