Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Duncan Jones (Original Story) & Nathan Parker (Screenplay)
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott, Matt Berry
Screening from: July 17th 2009
A new source of energy has been found on the Moon. The leading fusion energy supply corporation has contracted Sam Bell (Rockwell) to help mine the energy on a lunar base and send it back to Earth. Nearing the end of his three year contract, Sam is looking forward to going home to his wife and baby daughter. But as the final day comes near, Sam starts seeing things and he soon he’s forced to question what he’s been doing for the last three years.
Working by yourself in space is horribly lonely
I think there was irony in the air when I went to see Moon. Being the only person in the screening I attended, I kind of know how it felt for Sam being all alone. Well, at least he had a robot with the soothing sound of Kevin Spacey giving him helpful, smiley face, support.
Helmed by first time director, Duncan Jones, and more noticeably the son of David Bowie, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Moon going into the screening. A considerable low key release (despite coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of the Moon landing) and quietly on the sides as a certain bespectacled boy wizard has been taking major stage for the last two weeks. Though, it had been the critical darling of the Edinburgh film festival this year, picking up the best new British feature award, I was certainly in need of a different distraction from wizards, crazy Austrians, and robots.
Moon is one exceptional debut from Jones, crafting perhaps one of the most original and interesting sci-fi films of the last few years. A low budget throw back to classics of old, yes I’m talking 2001 here, Jones perfectly immerses his audience into the shoes of the lonely spaceman. Sure, argue that there are the usual sci-fi clichés lurking about the confined lunar base, but Jones’ story and confident direction of proceedings make it a refreshing treat for anyone remotely interested in science fiction, even a good drama. One of the surprises about Moon is that beneath its science fiction exterior lies a wonderful human drama. No philosophical babbling, no crazy overlong exposition about space travel, just a story about a man alone in space – and it’s not even a horror film for once! It does put a lot of recent films to shame, that’s for sure. I’d love to write more about the story but it does help going into this without little knowledge of the plot and not seeing the trailer too. Trust me, this film is great.
The film is elevated by a terrific central performance from Sam Rockwell who is engaging throughout, makes Moon a gripping view. This is a one man show but it’s a demanding role and Rockwell takes to the task of playing the paranoid spaceman wonderfully and what’s more unlike most films at the moment, you actually care about this guy as he peels away the hidden truths lurking inside the lunar space station. Most people have probably watched Rockwell as a trusty supporting actor for works like Frost/Nixon, Assassination of Jesse James, Hitchhiker’s Guide, but I think not many have seen him as a leading actor. This is one of his strongest performances yet, and being honest here, it’s one of my favourites of the year.
There are perfectly placed moments of humour and moments of humanity throughout the drama, mostly coming from Sam’s communications with his only ‘friend’ on the station, GERTY the robot assistant, voiced wonderfully deadpan and subtly by Kevin Spacey. Plus, squint hard and you might be able to see the I.T Crowd’s Matt Berry as one of Sam’s corporate bosses.
There is great production design on offer, Jones being incredibly lucky to pick up the special effects and production crew for this film thanks to the recent writer’s strike. Considering this is a low budget British funded affair, the visual quality, production work, and even Clint Mansell’s always reliable music makes Moon stellar quality.
For all sci-fi fans, Moon is an absolute must watch. It might not have the appeal of some of the blockbusters out there at the moment, but the quality on offer is superb. An old-school trip of science fiction for all in need of something a little different. Even if you’re looking for a focused drama, you can’t go wrong with this. A great performance from Rockwell, terrific visuals, and confident direction. Moon proves that Duncan Jones is definitely a British director to watch.How’s that for Zowie Bowie Power?