Kicking the Tweets

Entries in Moon [2009] (1)


Moon (2009)

Lunar Eclipse of the Heart

This will be my shortest review to date. Not that there isn’t a whole lot to talk about regarding Duncan Jones’s marvelous indie sci-fi picture, Moon; I just don’t want to over-sell it or over-discuss it before every last one of you has had the chance to see it for yourselves. It’s not a perfect movie, but I’m giving it my highest “Go See This Now” recommendation.

I’ve never seen a film like Moon before. The best way I can describe it is as a sort of alternate-universe prequel to Alien, by way of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, a technician for Lunar Industries whose job it is to oversee a rock mining plant on the moon. In the future, you see, scientists have discovered a way to harvest solar energy via moon rock and solve many of the world’s problems; trouble is, that someone has to mind the store—alone, for three years at a time.

Sam spends his off-hours exercising, carving wood models of his old neighborhood and talking to Gerty, the plant’s robot manager (voiced by Kevin Spacey, and lent personality via a series of revolving smiley-face cartoons on a computer screen; he’s the Human Resources version of HAL). Two weeks before his contract expires, Sam is involved in a terrible accident when his lunar truck rams into one of the remote drills. He awakens back inside the plant’s infirmary with only vague memories of the crash. Lying in bed, listening to Gerty’s reassurances, he notices someone else in the room; in fact, it’s a younger, healthier version of himself.

When I first heard about Moon, I thought that Sam’s having a clone was a major spoiler. But it turns out to be the plot’s catalyst, which leads to several other surprises. The film deals with issues of identity, memory, corporate ethics, and, above all, loneliness in utterly gratifying ways. Sam Rockwell does wonders with this role, playing all aspects of a human personality without ever hamming it up. The highest credit goes to Duncan Jones, though, who uses his effects team and body double to make us believe that two Sams can not only share a scene but also brawl when tempers flair.

If you’re a fan of Alien and 2001, you’ll understand my earlier comment about the converging storylines, after you watch Moon; I’m not just referring to the set design, which looks like the prototype for the Nostromo’s interiors, but also to the ideas and their logical progression, if one thinks of these films as occupying the same fictional universe. Hell, even if you don’t buy that theory at all, if you’re a lover of smart, well-acted movies that keep surprising and rewarding you, check out Moon.

Note: It’s fitting that Trudie Styler (Sting’s wife, and the star of Fair Game) should be one of the producers on this movie. Not only does she have experience playing a person trapped in a confined space who gradually goes insane, she also comes off as genuinely bat-shit crazy—which is the only way to explain Moon’s final couple of minutes, which, incidentally, I didn’t care for at all.