Moon is a harsh mistress

Duncan Jones' "Moon".

Duncan Jones' "Moon".

[SPOILER FREE]

[Update: Moon has received 4 nominations for SpikeTV’s Scream awards; Best SF Film, Best SF Director, Best SF actor (Sam Rockwell) and Best Screenplay. Vote HERE!) ]

So I finally managed to go and see the new movie Moon (warning there are spoilers on the official site!) directed by Duncan Jones. I had heard a bit about it from the internet (and inevitably the Twitterverse in particular, Peter Serafinowicz was vocal in his appreciation of the film) and it sounded right up my street. I am a science fiction fan, and while I enjoy they recent trend of CGI heavy explosion-fests as much as the next man, I have a soft spot for the more low fi gritty realism and thoughtfulness of films such as Silent Running, Outland, 2001 and Alien.

Trouble was this is a relatively low budget offering from a new director and it wasn’t on widespread release. So eventually I decided that this bank holiday I would track it down. I found that it was still playing at a number of cinemas near Leicester Square in London, and I decided on the small independent Prince Charles Cinema. It took just over an hour to get there, and the cost of travel was more than the entry ticket, but thankfully the film was well worth the effort.

Sam Rockwell gives an outstanding performance as Sam Bell, a solitary worker at a private corporation run mining facility on the far side of the moon. He single handedly runs operations with the aid of a HAL-like computer system, Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey). When not on the job, he spends his time watching video messages from his wife back on earth, growing plants (just a hint of Silent Running), and meticulously hand crafting a model of his hometown on earth.

The first act puts us in the boots of Sam, showing us the grind of his day to day work and his longing for his 3 year contract to be over so he can go home. There is just a hint of loopiness to his demeanour, but is it eccentricity borne of years in effective solitary confinement or the signs of something more?

The film deals with themes such as the loneliness of space, isolation, and how humans might deal with such situations. There are stylistic nods to 2001 in the white futuristic-retro octagonal corridors, and the soothing voiced computer who may or may not be completely on Sam’s side, but also shades of Alien in the future environment as a contemporary dirty work environment. Ridley Scott’s truckers in space behaviour is echoed by the miner in space of Sam (in a similar way to the drillers under the sea in The Abyss, or indeed the mining facility setting of Outland). The base seems lived in and real, not some space operatic construction.

Later as twists and turns unfold, we are asked to ponder the meaning of self and memory. The film despite being made on a small budget looks great, and a special mention must also go to the fantastically atmospheric and evocative score by Clint Mansell (formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself). The film is by turns laugh out loud funny, sad, thoughtful and tense. It doesn’t blast you out of your seat with effects but makes you think. It also is well paced (maybe a touch slow for some people, but I liked Solaris…☺) and hangs together well as a whole. I left the cinema feeling that I had seen a great movie. You know, when everything just feels…right. I can’t wait for more from Duncan Jones.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

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