Moon is a well constructed and beautifully shot sci-fi film written and directed by Duncan Jones, who is also known as the son of David Bowie. The movie stars Sam Rockwell, who gives a surprising performance as a lonely moon-miner, and his only companion, a computer that communicates via emoticon smoothly voiced by an unseen Kevin Spacey. The film is paired with a stunning and well-matched soundtrack from composer Clint Mansell, best known for his work doing the music for Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Wrestler. Moon’s haunting, moody feel is matched with the futurist angular orange striped esthetic of the 70’s evocative of other sci-fi greats, but somehow it manages to also have a strangely make-shift-cozy and familiar feel- making it both alienating and oddly personal.
Sam’s relationships with the few other characters in the film are deeply revealing, rich, and nuanced. GERTY, the station robot with a serious HAL vibe, seems an unlikely source of compassion and support but ends up taking the role of both caring wife and nurturing mother, making the choice to give it a male voice an interesting one.
Deceptive in its simplicity, Moon uses the few elements it has on hand to create an intricate and layered puzzle that is remarkable not so much in the surprises it reveals but it the realization and scope of the implication of the answers it leads to. What struck me was how the film seemed to follow the natural progression of thought to lead down a well-kempt path of logic while at the same time tenderly presenting the emotional impact of typically detached and abstract questions in a personal way.
A silkily even-toned robot, a space station on the fritz, a man strung out and at his wits end coping with the loneliness of a long stint alone in this stark isolated environment with no real human contact- While Moon brings to mind other films of the genre it delivers on them in its own way. Even the cramped but minimally furnished station is filled with reminiscent details that seem to hint at deeper roles in what might be to come.
Though the film starts with an ominous tone and is tense at times it has an oddly optimistic ending that reflects the film’s mission to explore possibilities rather than linger on a single outcome or path. The film’s style is very much in the true spirit of sci-fi more often found in book form and is presented in a way that feels almost to be made for the spatially limited but conceptually expansive breadth of a one-man play. Where other space thrillers have ship corridors plagued with boogiemen, the ultimate villain of Moon is the cruelty of false hope. But without hope, what else is there?
Moon presents intriguing questions with no tidy answers. True to its roots without being inaccessible or tiresome and dull Moon manages to do what it sets out to nicely and is a thoughtful and welcome reprieve from the tyranny of big budget blast-fest blockbuster sci-fi epics.