Friday, July 10, 2009
Day 170: Moon (2009) - Rank 4.5/5
The more I reflect upon this film, the more I like it, despite a couple of moot points on my part. The film is reminiscent of "2001: A Space Odyssey" but with a stronger focus on isolation and loss of self-identity. Sam Rockwell tackles duel roles as the same man: Sam Bell, an astronaut stationed alone on a moon base in an undefined year in our future. He staves off boredom as he sends containers of helium-3 back to Earth that are harvested by large machines roving across the lunar surface (a new, non-polluting power source). His world is shaken when he finds himself sharing the station with, well, himself. Sam inexplicably recovers a wounded version of himself from a lunar rover and when his doppelganger is revived, it seems to be another him.
I'll stop here for fear of giving any potential reveals away (I've given no exposition that cannot be determined from the trailer). Thankfully, writer/director Duncan Jones' script throws out all the typical cliches that one might expect after downing a decade of contrived M. Night Shymalan twists. Instead the reason behind the madness is rather straightforward - but merely on a surface level. The circumstances that led Sam to his current predicament and the way that he and his doppelganger behave are thoroughly open to interpretation. It's not too far fetched to suggest that Rockwell might garner a Best Actor nod from the Academy, given the tip of the hat they gave Nicolas Cage for "Adaptation."
The sense of loneliness that "Moon" instills certainly lasts longer than the film lasts. Jones easily generates this atmosphere by making Sam Bell the only player in this production (save televised communiques from his wife or superiors). Despite this, Jones does infuse a sense of hope into his film to keep it all from being utter despair. I did have niggling a niggling issue with Sam's reaction to himself. For the better part, he and his shadow act like two embittered roommates, refusing to accept each other's existence for much of the earlier portions of the film. One would assume that a professional scientist would be a little more inquisitive, but then again, the isolation of space could have clouded his judgment. In fact, that clouded perspective on the situation could have worked quite well as the crux of the film, making the story a psychological thriller in the vein of some of Roman Polanski's earlier works, like "Repulsion" or "The Tenant." Duncan Jones sticks to his guns though, and spins an old-fashioned, somewhat plausible and "down to Earth" (forgive the pun) science fiction yarn. And considering the fact that we seem to be in an era where most studios think that science fiction is nothing more than weird aliens and space battles, "Moon" certainly comes as a welcome breath of fresh air.
Watch the Trailer