Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey
A couple of light years from Star Trek sits a small indie sci-fi. Directed by Duncan Jones (aka Zowie Bowie, David’s son), Moon is a low-budget thriller eons from Transformers; not only does it have a brain, it’s also exciting. Not in a crash-bang way. This is a film about ideas – a dystopian discussion on the nature of humanity. The kind of thing they did back in the ‘70s. Far out.
Sam Bell (Rockwell) has been working for Lunar Industries for 3 years. Mining efficient energy (helium-3) from the dark side of the moon, his contract is about to expire. But his time in isolation has toppled his thinker. No wonder, given his only form of company is a corporate computer, Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey.
After crashing a rover on the crater-ridden surface, Sam starts seeing things. Namely, his own spitting image. As he debates this delusion with his own doppleganger, he begins to question his very existence. But Duncan’s deep drama never warps up its own blackhole. Keeping its convolution to a minimum, Moon is tight, taut and always tense. Even when it reveals its twist halfway through.
With a stripped-down script and sublime cinematography, Duncan Jones creates a piece of pure delight. It's elegant, understated and underscored by a great soundtrack. A subtle sci-fi, then, which showcases Sam Rockwell’s stellar talent. Mad, morose, lonely and heartbroken, Sam steals our sympathy from the opening shot; true to his usual form, Moon’s one-man show never gets boring.
It helps that Kevin Spacey sounds so sinister. Expressing his thoughts with yellow emoticons, Gerty is a computer companion for the truly neurotic. Polite, helpful and monotonous to the last, he’s a dream come true for any paranoid astronaut alone in the cosmos. Paying homage to HAL, alongside Solaris and Silent Running, this thoughtful thriller is breathtaking, beautiful and wonderfully brilliant.
Putting the philosophy back into sci-fi, Moon is a bold British debut. Brief, but bewitching.