There is something about films involving space that has always peaked my interest. One of my favourites is Danny Boyle’s space epic Sunshine and I have enjoyed the very peculiar Solaris, the whimsical adventure of The Martian and the mind-bendingness of Interstellar. So naturally, I am led to Duncan Jones’ directorial debut of Moon.
Funnily enough, Moon is set on the moon, but set in the future where mankind has figured out how to harvest the moon for a renewable energy source. This kind of work would surely take a massive workforce, right? Wrong. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, the lonely operator for Lunar Enterprises aided with his robot pal, GERTY (Voiced by Kevin Spacey) that can display emotions through yellow faces. (See Below)
What was really enjoyable about Sunshine was the immersive element created by Danny Boyle, but also the claustrophobic feeling of the Icarus spaceship. Moon adopts these elements, but also has the effects of isolation on Sam alone during his three-year contract with Lunar Enterprises. Sam is two weeks away from getting off that rock and being reunited with his wife and daughter.
The madness of isolation creeps up on Sam as he goes about his daily routine, talking to his plants and imagining fictitious relationships between them whilst watching television shows and building a model town. Sam sees a woman sitting in his chair and burns his hand in one instance, highlighting that maybe his mind is beginning to get the better of him.
Sam Rockwell is brilliant in this role as he depicts perfectly this madness, but also for his performance in the rest of the film. (Which I cannot really speak of due to spoilers) But also Duncan Jones manages to negotiate both the vast landscape of the moon, but also the solitude of Sam, confined to the bunker.
As the film ticks over its 90-minute runtime – which was perfect for the film of this calibre – Sam discovers that everything is not right on the Lunar Enterprise base. He has a crash in the rover, whilst trying to mend one of the unmanned harvesters. After this crash, he overhears a conversation between GERTY and Lunar Enterprises, which sets off the alarm bells in Sam’s head. (Especially as the live satellite is meant to be bust)
Although the story isn’t that groundbreaking, it makes for interesting viewing all the same for how Sam Rockwell’s Sam Bell interacts with the story. But I think the importance of Moon is not the story, but rather the acting on show from Sam Rockwell and showing a range of emotions throughout the film.
It’s worth noting that it’s clear to see Jones’ has taken influence from 2001: A Space Odyssey with the similarities between HAL 9000 and GERTY, and to some degree even sounding the same. And the inclusion of an orchestral piece near the beginning, before being moved into an array of bleeps and sonars integrated into the soundtrack.
Duncan Jones’ Moon is an interesting and enjoyable piece of filmmaking. With the likes of Sunshine, Interstellar and Solaris he has continued this trend of keeping me intrigued with films involving space and the very different ideas throughout the range of these films.
Although more depth could have been explored regarding Lunar Enterprises, Duncan Jones could’ve intentionally left their exploits open-ended for discussions. Regardless, the star of the show is Sam Rockwell by a mile, but Jones backed him every step with the claustrophobic bunker and the incredible effects of the Moon, including a crackin’ shot of the Earth.