Moon (15)

SciFi (2008)
96mins UK

Starring: Matt Berry, Sam Rockwell, Dominique McElligott, Kevin Spacey, Benedict Wong
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer(s): Nathan Parker
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Posted to a mining station on the moon for the past three years, Sam is looking forward to returning to Earth and his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter, who he speaks to via videophone. A routine visit to one of the mining vehicles opens Sam's eyes to a chilling secret kept by the station's computer GERTY, and the possibility that he is not alone on the Sarang moon base.

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LondonNet Film Review

David Bowie's son Duncan Jones makes an auspicious directorial debut with this haunting, science-fiction drama penned by Nathan Parker.

Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell in Moon - opening 17 July 2009 Photo taken by Mark Tille (c) Lunar Industries Ltd., Courtesy of Sony Pictures ReleasingTraversing similar terrain to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Silent Running, Jones dons his moon boots for a haunting meditation on alienation and solitude, set more than 200,000 miles from the surface of planet Earth. The director works closely with production designer Tony Noble and director of photography Gary Shaw to evoke a mesmerising, retro-futuristic aesthetic on an incredibly tight budget, augmented with realistic visual effects.

Moon is incredibly ambitious, but Jones succeeds by working within a controlled environment - the action rarely strays outside of the moon-base setting - and by relying on actor Sam Rockwell to carry the film almost single-handed.

Left to Right: Dominique McElligott as Tess Bell, Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell in Moon - opening 17 July 2009 Photo taken by Mark Tille (c) Lunar Industries Ltd., Courtesy of Sony Pictures ReleasingIn the near future, Earth's natural resources have been dangerously depleted and mankind searches the heavens for salvation. On the moon, Lunar Industries employee Sam Bell (Rockwell) single-handedly oversees the harvesting of the Helium-3 isotope, which has become our primary fuel source. He has been stationed at the Sarang base for three years and is eagerly looking forward to returning home to his beautiful wife Tess (Dominique McElligott) and their three-year-old daughter. "Three years is waaay too long. I'm talking to myself on a regular basis," babbles Sam.

During a routine visit to one of the harvesting machines, Sam's health deteriorates and he wakes in the sickbay to the familiar voice of resident computer GERTY (Kevin Spacey), with no recollection how he got back to base. Sam longs to piece together the gap in his memory, but the computer is oddly evasive. "I'm sorry Sam. I'm under orders not to let you outside," reveals GERTY in unsettling monotone, recalling HAL from Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001. The astronaut's mounting paranoia turns to confusion when he comes face-to-face with a clone (Rockwell again), who is programmed to complete the same three-year mission.

Moon gradually draws us into Sam's humdrum routine until the moment he crashes the lunar rover and we're compelled to unravel the layers of mystery. Alone on-screen for almost every frame, Rockwell delivers a compelling performance that captures the loneliness and frustrations of a man living in isolation on the far side of the moon. He runs the gamut of the character's fluctuating emotions, performing to himself as the two Sams work together to discover how they fit into Lunar Industries' plans, and GERTY follows protocol to stop them: "The lower deck is out-of-bounds to awakened clones!" Spacey assumes a pivotal supporting role with his vocals, which almost humanise the computer, and there is a palpable tinge of sadness when the Sams consider abandoning GERTY to make good their escape.

- Kim Hu

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