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Movies Review

Moon

By
Moon
Released on Friday, Jul 17 2009

Director: Duncan Jones (interview)
Screenwriter: Nathan Parker
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice)
Running time: 97 mins
Certificate: 15

Moon is a futuristic thriller that's pleasingly low on action and high on intelligence, boasting a magnificent central performance from Sam Rockwell. Almost the only actor visible on screen throughout the movie, his portrayal of an isolated worker losing his mind is captivating, while the script and direction bring plenty of thought-provoking science fiction concepts to the fore - and some killer twists too.

Set in the near future, the tale revolves around the bleak and isolated existence of Sam Bell, a man nearing the end of a three-year contract working in isolation on a Moon base for a mining corporation. Since the satellites malfunctioned, his only communication with Earth has been via recorded messages sent to him by his wife and his bosses. An omnipresent artificial intelligence robot called Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey in superbly ambiguous tones, keeps Sam company. But his mental state is rapidly deteriorating and he suffers nightmarish visions that cause a life-threatening accident. When he awakens, the beleaguered worker embarks on a shocking voyage of discovery.

Like Sam, the audience spends much of Moon's latter half trying to figure out exactly what is going on. What is Gerty hiding from him? Are Sam's hallucinations more real than we first thought? At times, the movie does hit a lull and threatens to tread a familiar path, only to suddenly veer off in genuinely surprising and absorbing directions. That's partially the key to Moon's success - despite the retro visual texture and strong thematic homages to the corrupt corporate worlds of Blade Runner and Aliens, it still manages to feel original and relevant.

Wisely ignoring CGI for old-school model work, Duncan Jones conveys a physically and emotionally barren landscape within which we find the isolated figure of Sam. Initially framing him via medium to long shots to convey his loneliness, the cameras slowly glide in towards Sam as the suspense mounts, echoing the seemingly sinister movements of Gerty. Has the robot perhaps gone a bit 'HAL'?

Sam Rockwell deserves to be an Oscar contender given the weight of material he has to deal with. He delivers an affecting and credible portrayal of the loner yearning for home, with later plot developments allowing him to show different facets to the character. Besides, how can you not feel sympathy for a man who has 'The One And Only' by Chesney Hawkes waking him up every morning?

An eerie, disturbing and moving film, but not without occasional bursts of humour, Moon is a refreshing antidote to the dumb action-orientated futuristic fodder has dominated cinemas in recent years. The fusion of Duncan 'son of Bowie' Jones's emerging directorial talent and Sam Rockwell's established acting prowess ensures that Moon is a real space oddity these days - a thinking man's sci-fi movie that packs a punch.


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