Saturday 14 May 2011

Film: Moon (2009)

I had heard good things about this award-winning low-budget British SF film and also about the director and co-author Duncan Jones, whose debut film this was, so I sat down to watch it with some anticipation.

Moon has a claustrophic little plot, focusing on one man (Sam Bell, played by Sam Rockwell) who is nearing the end of a solitary three-year stint as maintenance man at a mining base on the far side of the Moon. A faulty satellite means that direct communications with Earth are impossible, with recorded messages sent via Jupiter being the only contact with his wife and young child. His only companion is GERTY the computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey). The beginning of the film, with Sam exercising on a machine and talking to GERTY, is reminiscent of 2001. At first it seems strange that one man should be left in isolation for so long, but the reason becomes apparent as the plot is gradually revealed.

After an accident while out on the surface trying to service one of the mining machines, Sam wakes up back in the Moon base, very weak, and spends some time recovering. He decides to ignore GERTY's instruction that he must not leave the base and goes outside to try to correct the problem with the mining machine. What he discovers there gives him a devastating shock which causes him to completely re-evaluate the nature of his life and precipitates a series of events which lead him to plan to return to Earth in secret.

I can't reveal more of the plot without spoiling the surprise for new viewers, which I would not want to do. If you haven't seen it yet, then arrange to do so and be careful to avoid reading the Wiki plot summary or any other spoilers, because this film is a little gem, albeit a rather dark one.

What I like most about the film is the intelligence of the script and the pared-down low-key nature of the plot. There is no showiness here, no hyped-up action, no spelled-out explanations for lazy viewers; we are left to observe and work out what is going on at the same time as Sam does.

Duncan Jones' style has been likened to that of another acclaimed writer/director, Christopher Nolan (Prestige, Memento, Inception and recent Batman movies) and I can see why. Jones has directed another film, Source Code, released this year, which is now at the top of my "must see" list. With two intelligent writer/directors producing such thoughtful and thought-provoking movies, the SF film scene is looking healthier than it has for some time.


Fred said...

Thanks for the review. I've been debating about whether to add this one to my queue. I guess I will add it and move it up for viewing.

The Gray Monk said...

I shall have to look this one up, your review has certainly piqued my interest.

Peter R Stone said...

Moon was one of the best film's I have seen for some time. And it goes to prove that you do not need expensive CGI and ridiculous action scenes to make a good film.
The intricacies of the plot that made the viewer wonder what was going on, plus the humanity of GERTY who wanted to reveal to Sam the shocking truth, as contrasted with the utter inhumanity of the humans who had set the base up, was very powerful.
Oh, Sourcecode is very good too, with a similar moral theme woven into the story.

Unknown said...

Oh, Mr Stone, you sold the story. Not the plot precisely, but the geist of it all, the dialogue with "Space Odissey".

Anthony G Williams said...

At least in this case, the computer was helpful!

Unknown said...

Yep, it helped to solve the problem, it wasn't the source of it, hence the dialogue with SO, the contrast. Although the unpretentious way that contrast was conveyed, and Kevin Spacey´s superb voicing, still make it worth watching, spoiler and all. Damn, even the way GERTY turns it`s back to Sam, like a willing sacrificial victim offering the neck, its a smart detail. That´s British SF for you, smart.