D: Duncan Jones. DP: Gary Shaw. W: Nathan Parker (original story by Duncan Jones). Starring: Sam Rockwell/Kevin Spacey/Dominique McElligot/Kaya Scodelario.
As the summer continues a consistent pattern is emerging. The gargantuan budgeted studio films are merely flickering and the independent films are shining. Here is the next installment in that pattern.
Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, a married man with a three-year contract to live on the moon and help harvest a precious gas that will apparently reverse the earth’s energy crisis. Besides the automated mining machines, Sam works and lives with Gerty (the voice of Kevin Spacey) who monitors and “helps” him. And nearing the end of his contract we see Sam finally unravel. And that is where Rockwell truly shines.
Shouldering the film on his own, he is able to deliver a spectrum of Bell’s personality, while using the minimal space around him well. Sequestered in a moon base, Rockwell adds logistic sanity to his trivial and mundane activities that get him through the day. A day in the future sometime, as Jones’ never clearly labels his timetable, a decision which allows Rockwell the freedom to meld his Sam based on many a decade of astronaut images. So much so that Rockwell’s little ticks and tricks become not only part of Sam’s moon routine, but also part of the fabric of his astronaut personality. And with clear deliberate directing from Jones, Rockwell is able to sustain this interest from his first and last frame in the film.
Jones’ is clearly passionate about the project, having written the original story, which bodes well as there aren’t any loopholes to be found in his Moon. Many questions, but not any loopholes. And his work with Shaw proves a clean synthesis of vision. This team constantly reminds its audience of Rockwell’s isolation, not only within his base, but within space. Rockwell’s existence on such a desolate planet is quietly captured with long shots of his ventures out on the moon’s surface. Reiterating questions of human isolation and loneliness, even in reference to health.
Little can be said of the minimal other actors in the film, with Spacey’s voice really the only other significant one next to Rockwell’s. But Spacey’s Gerty offers calm, simplistic reasoning to Rockwell’s emotional episodes, illustrating the fundamental clash between man and manchine. And it is this theme that is quietly threaded throughout Moon, allowing Rockwell’s Sam to represent more than space pioneering and personal sacrifice. That ‘more’ you’ll decide on your own as Moon is sure to surprise you and take you on a trip to the far side of things.