Moon Review 1

| July 24, 2009

Moon

DIR: Duncan Jones • WRI: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker • PRO: Stuart Fenegan, Trudie Styler, Mark Foligno, Alex Francis, Steve Milne, Nicky Moss • DOP: Gary Shaw • ED: Nicolas Gaster • DES: Tony Noble • CAST: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott

The best science fiction stories take advantage of their setting in deep space or the distant future to explore big questions of time, space and identity. The best of the genre use the mind bending implications of space travel to take audiences on equally head-wrecking trips. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 is the classic, Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky) is another standout example and even Danny Boyle’s Sunshine got agreeably freaky the further it strayed from planet Earth. This is the promise of Moon, Duncan Jones’ directorial debut.

In Moon, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is a lonely engineer stationed at a lunar fuel processing plant tasked with single-handedly keeping the plant running for the duration of his three-year contract. Sam’s only companion is the artificially intelligent robot named GERTY, and with the station’s communications feed on the blink Sam can only communicate with earth via recorded message.
A proper sense of loneliness, alienation and quiet desperation is well established; Sam is three weeks from the end of his contract, he desperately misses his wife and young daughter and you feel his pain when he reports to his superiors that ‘Three years is waaaay too long.’

The expected sci-fi strangeness surfaces when Sam crashes his lunar rover, is badly injured, and then inexplicably rescued by his double. The lunar station is now home to two Sam Bells. This also marks, unfortunately, the film’s high point. This is a great disappointment because it’s a very strong start and it’s hard to take issue with any specific aspect of the movie. Indeed, it is an extremely well made film, and it is beautifully art-directed; the lunar station is believable and rich in visual detail. Sam Rockwell is spot on in his role, or rather two roles, and the different versions of Sam Bell are nicely differentiated with the on screen doubling never becoming clumsy.

So Duncan Jones has made a rather good film. What limits his achievement is a failure of ambition. After the initial setup, so well done, expectations are high, but then the momentum is lost as the initial strangeness is dissipated and the plot settles into a rather humdrum race against time. Mr Jones would do well to allow his imagination a little more free rein. That said though, it is still a good film and will find an audience. It is also a debut and for that it is quite an achievement. We will be hearing more from Duncan Jones.

Conor O’Kelly
(See biog here)

Rated 15a
Moon is released on 17th July 2009
Moon – Official Website

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