I was lucky enough last week, to be invited to London to see a new independent film called Moon, directed by Duncan Jones – the man formally known as Zowie Bowie – and starring Sam Rockwell.
The film centres on the life of Sam Bell, who is on a three year contract as the solitary operator/caretaker of the Sarang Moon mining base, and to compound his loneliness a malfunctioning satellite has limited his contact with earth to infrequent pre-recorded messages. His only companion is Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) an advanced computer, who assists Sam in his day to day activates; as well as keeping him from going mad with loneliness. However, one day Sam has an accident, and this begins the unravelling of the sinister truth behind the life of the isolated moon base operator.
I have to say I found the plot for this film absolutely fascinating, and it challenges it’s audience to really question what the hell is going on. Sometimes this is a bit jarring, and the film guards it’s secrets adequately well, however the payoff for this engagement is worthwhile if a quite sad. However, when the film does unveil its secrets, it relies on the less-is-more approach; which may alienate some people more used to the Hollywood format of heavily underlining dramatic plot devices, but for those viewers who fancy a bit of challenge it will certainly please. The future portrayed is also adequately believable, and the film doesn’t try to show off how advanced it can make the future look; instead it just portrays something we’ve seen before in sci-fi although a slightly differently.
This film also features some great performances from the handful of actors who do appear. Praise must obviously be reserved for Rockwell, who does a stellar job portraying what is almost a one-man cast. Rockwell manages to convey a complex range of juxtaposed emotions, as the film shifts between light-hearted comedy, serious sci-fi and emotional crescendos. Spacey too deserves kudos for his part as Gerty the robot; for portraying possibly the cuddliest robotic voice ever – like a mix between Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Father Christmas. There is also an interesting cameo from Matt Berry, who British viewers may recognise as Douglas from the IT Crowd and as the voice of Absolute FM.
I feel also that most viewers will be surprised at what the makers have managed on the modest $5 Million budget. Jones and his production team have done a fantastic job of realising the moon’s surface and the base through simple model effects - with a bit of touching up from computers obviously. It is certainly no Transformers 2 when this film comes to effects, but the old-school feel doesn’t fall flat for it. However, I feel the highest praise should be credited to the musical score for this film, which stands up well against other sci-fi soundtracks. The beauty of the music in this film is that it encompasses the emotional turmoil experienced by Sam, and also fits the lonely outer-space setting well too.
Overall I would recommend seeing Moon. It’s a clever and intelligent film, which has managed to achieve far more with the little resources that the makers had, than some of the mindless big-budget extravaganzas, which is a welcome change.