I got to go see the Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son btw) film “Moon” this weekend which really excited me, because I have wanted to see it since I read about it a few weeks back.  Without giving too much away, “Moon” is about a worker on a lunar station named Sam (played by the excellent Sam Rockwell) who is finishing up a three year solitary contract on the base.  Basically nothing works out ideally as things quickly reveal that the “three year” contract is not all that it seems to be.  All and all I thought this was an excellent film.

I can see how it would be easy to compare this movie to “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Solaris” (or the 2002 remake of it), but, while the influences of both are undoubtedly present, I think it would be wrong to rely on those similarities alone as a sole gauge of what kind of movie “Moon” is.  “Moon” is it’s own film based on a theme of hard science fiction, that tries to consider the actual emotions and feelings of being isolated out in space with nobody to really talk to besides a computer.

The two things that I really enjoyed about the film was its look and the pretty much overbearing sense of suspense that continued throughout. 

On the look end I was utterly impressed by how on one hand everything look believable as a moon station or moon rovers.  But what was more so was that there was a reminiscent of that squeaky clean sterility that was present in “2001: A Space Odyssey” but the difference is the “Moon” presents this cleanliness as having failed.  Moon dust has got in, things look dirty and gritty and all around on the approach of slowly falling apart.  In doing so the film makes a wonderful commentary on the human strive of clean perfection and how the ideal is ultimately unrealistic.  The character of Sam, after his nearly three years of isolation, seems not to care about this at all.  We can almost envision Sam when he first “arrived” as trying to maintain that ideal of perfection but growing more and more disillusioned by it as it began to dawn on him that the dust will always prevail.

The second part that I really liked, as I mentioned above, was the continual, almost overbearing, sense of suspense.  I want to note though that this was not a cheapened suspense like we encounter in a lot of horror movies when we “know” that something is bound to jump out at us, instead this is a building existential suspense that tells us that things are terribly wrong in the reality that is being presented in the movie.  It is an unease with existence itself and it relies so much on Sam Rockwell’s wonderful acting and ability to fully actualize this pervasive atmosphere of utter discomfort.  In many ways I would attribute this feeling to another Stanly Kubrick film, that being “The Shining” which I personally feel is one of the most intelligently atmosphered movies of all time.  The thing about this suspense is that you don’t need the cheap moment of something jumping out from the dark corner or a sudden loud crashing noise because that would ruin it, it would let you feel relief after it got your heart really racing.  Instead with this slowly building, but constantly lingering suspense, there is no relief, and only the conclusion the film can release the viewer from that sort of dread that has saturated the film.  I feel that it is an absolutely genius display of directing and acting that presents a constant urgency but an absolute uncertainty as to what the actual urgency is for.

So yeah, “Moon” was really good and seemed to live up to all the positive reviews I have read.  Is it for everyone?  Probably not.  If you are looking to see an action packed science fiction movie watch the new “Star Trek” and you will probably have a good time.  If you want a movie that requires a bit more patience and contemplation then you might find “Moon” ideal.  Much like “2001” or “Solaris,” “Moon” is more concerned with the psychological implications of isolation in space as well as the questions about what is “real” in both the sense of the individual self and the world which that self has to cope with.  Good stuff, I found it very enjoyable.

~ by Nathaniel on July 13, 2009.

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