A Review by The Mike
Starring: Sam Rockwell
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Rated: R for language
Movie Released: 2009
I haven’t made an easier decision this week than the one I made when I chose Moon as the Midnight Movie of the Week. To say I’ve quickly become a fan of this movie is an understatement. Truthfully, I’ve kinda become some weird concoction of Lord of the Rings and Twilight nerds on this one – so far as to use a week’s vacation in correlation with its DVD release and then rent a copy of it from a dirty Redbox when my preorder didn’t arrive the first two days. Believe me when I say, the movie’s well worth seeking out.
Directed by Duncan Jones and starring Sam Rockwell, Moon tells the story of Sam Bell. Sam is an astronaut who’s just two weeks shy of completing a three year stint harvesting precious Helium 3 on the far side of Earth’s moon. What’s worse than spending three years on the far side of the Moon? How about spending three years on the far side of the Moon…alone.
Obviously, that amount of time without human contact can make anyone a little batty. Sam does have the companionship of the ship’s robotic controller GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), who is onboard with the purpose of keeping Sam safe, but as his contract nears an end he begins to deteriorate emotionally. A few strange visions and a harvester accident later, Sam finds that he does have company in the base – in the form of a mirror image who claims that he, in fact, is Sam Bell.
The less you know about the film from that point forward, the better. But one thing I must say about Moon, a testament to Jones’ direction and the writing of Nathan Parker, is that the film appears to know exactly where it wants to go. A lot of films dealing with identity and psychological disturbance seem to get lost in their questions and forget to give the viewer sufficient answers, but Parker and Jones’ combination of story and script provides a completely satisfying story that doesn’t leave the viewer grasping at straws. I don’t mean to say that the film is simple or that it plays down to its audience, either, as it balances quite nicely by being both thought-provoking and straight-forward.
The meat-and-potatoes of Moon is Rockwell in his lead performance(s). He creates two distinct personas for the Bell character(s), and at many times throughout the film I nearly forgot that it was the same actor pulling off the role(s). There’s a movement amongst the cinema savvy to bring light to his performance for Oscar voters and although I fear it won’t amount to anything, it’s a noble and righteous cause. I can’t remember a more complex and fascinating performance within the past year.
Moon is a brisk and effective film, managing to create its dilemma, advance its character(s), and come to a satisfying conclusion in just over 90 minutes. And once you fall for its charm, you’ll most likely want to watch it again to pick up the hints and inside jokes that permeate the film.
In a year full of sci-fi blockbusters that have pulled in rave reviews (Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek come to mind), Moon was lost in the shuffle. But I’m confident enough after two viewings of this one to say that Moon is easily my favorite sci-fi film of the year, and probably my favorite film of the year, period. And, like I said earlier, that makes it an easy choice as From Midnight With Love’s Midnight Movie of the Week.