Moon (2009)

Man in the moon…

In the not so distant future, after mankind has ravaged the Earth’s natural resources to the brink of destruction, salvation is found on the far side of the moon. It is home to massive quantities of Helium-3, a fuel that has become essential to mankind’s survival, and so mega-corporation Lunar Industries sends astronauts to oversee the mining of this miracle element and its safe passage back to earth.

Sam Bell (Rockwell) is coming to the end of his solitary two-year stint in the lunar wasteland and, after only having his sardonic super-computer GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company, isdesperate for some human contact from his wife and young daughter. But when Sam’s health begins to deteriorate, and he begins to see things he can’t explain, he starts to question his sanity. And when he meets the person sent to replace him, things go quickly from bad to worse to weird.

Although Moon, the sci-fi thriller from British writer/director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie, no less), has echoes of modern masters like Kubrick, Cameron and Scot it follows its own narrative orbit thanks to a subtle yet creepy story, atmospheric visuals and a stellar turn by Rockwell as a man unsure about whether he’s losing his mind or uncovering a painful truth. Despite it’s relatively small scale and limited range – Sam’s entire frame of reference consists of the claustrophobic Mining Base and the dusty grey nothingness of the Moon’s surface – the role demands a great deal from Rockwell. And he certainly delivers, grounding the classic sci-fi themes of identity, alienation, technology and that final frontier of space with a performance that runs the gamut of visceral human emotion from euphoria to terror, despair to acceptance. That he also manages to inject some wry humour into the mix adds an increasing sense of poignancy as the film slowly reveals itself.

As a British sci-fi movie, Moon is something to be proud of; a beautifully-crafted fable about the consequences of human greed and unfettered technological endeavour that’s plausible enough to be genuinely chilling. And the fact that it’s been made at our very own Shepperton Studios, for an amount of money that wouldn’t cover the publicity campaigns of most Hollywood movies, makes the achievement all the more worth celebrating.

4 stars

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Play Moon: Director Duncan Jones Featurette

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Stars Sam Rockwell, Benedict Wong
Director Duncan Jones
Nathan Parker, from a story by Duncan Jones
Certificate 15
Distributor Sony Pictures
Running Time 1hr 37mins
Opens July 17