Sunday, July 12, 2009


Film: Moon (2009)
Dir: Duncan Jones
Rating: ****1/2 out of 5 stars

You will remember Duncan Jones' name after seeing this film. The former "Zowie Bowie" has officially escaped his father's shadow and firmly established himself as a filmmaker to be recognized. His feature debut Moon is a simple but effective sci-fi thriller. While it may evoke comparisons to genre classics like Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey, it truly stands alone, with stellar writing, chilling music, and an unforgettable performance by Sam Rockwell.

Sam Bell (Rockwell) is coming to the end of his three-year contract with Lunar Industries. He was contracted to single-handedly man a space station that harnesses energy from the Earth's moon. His only companion is a computer called GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey). After three years alone in space, Sam is literally counting the days until he can return to his wife and daughter on Earth. But when his rover accidently collides with a harvesting machine, Sam awakens in the infirmary with limited memory. Strange things begin to occur, but what Sam finds when he leaves the space station makes him question his job, GERTY, and his own identity.

While the trailer gives away far more plot than I just did, I think it's best to see Moon without knowing much about it. The script is penned by Nathan Parker and based on a story by Duncan Jones. At its most basic level, the film is about the loneliness and isolation of outer space, and the madness it creates. It has all the sci-fi elements we expect - an eerie, almost asylum-like spaceship; a computer that is too helpful for comfort; and a shady corporation pulling the strings. But Moon also packs a powerful message about the value of human life, and what differentiates us from machines.

Rockwell gives the performance of his lifetime as the lonely space contrator, Sam. I've always loved the guy, but he truly deserves some award recognition here. For starters, he has very emotional conversations with actors who aren't actually there, since Rockwell is his only co-star for much of the film. Furthermore, he plays vastly different character types, each with complete conviction. If this man gets overlooked come award season, it will be nothing short of a crime.

Lastly, I need to mention the beautiful, haunting score by Clint Mansell, who has rapidly become a favorite composer of mine. You have probably heard similar music of his in Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain. His music in Moon is perfect for the film's tone and content.

This is not a film to be missed. Go see it. Now. And on your drive home, stop and pick up the official soundtrack, too. Thank me later.