Saturday 8 August 2009

Review: Moon

Year: 2009
Director: Duncan Jones
Screenplay: Nathan Parker
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey

Here's the thing. I live in a medium sized town which has two cinemas. Sounds great for a guy like me yeah? Well not quite. Both are multiplexes and we're still in the summer blockbuster season. And with that, smaller films like Moon will be pushed out in order to have another screen of Harry Potter, despite the fact it's playing in the other five cinemas. So how did I get to see Moon? I got my ass off the sofa and got on a train. Pricey? Little bit. Worth it? Defiantly.

If you (read: anyone) reads this blog on somewhat of a regular basis, then you may have heard me signing the praises of Johnny Depp in Public Enemies. It was a performance I considered one of the best (if not the best) of the year. Well sorry Johnny and shut the fuck up Byron, Sam Rockwell film carrying display in Moon was quite simply stunning. Rockwell hasn't been this engaging since his remarkable performance in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), and here in this film he shows once again why he's so watchable.

It's hard to truly talk about how good Rockwell is in the role without letting out some of Moon's deeper secrets and because of that I will only say this: It's varied. This is a film that relies (almost solely) on Rockwell carrying it and he does so with ease. One plot moment is shown in the trailer but it doesn't tell you how fragmented the role Rockwell plays is. This is not the (intentionally) flat performance by Keir Dullea in 2001 (a film which Moon riffs on consantly) but a complicated, nuanced display of isolation, fear and deterioration.

Rockwell's performance helps bring about the larger arguments that Duncan Jones wishes to bring forth in the movie: what does it mean to be human? Is it our works? our memories? Jones delivers the films themes with such a sobering it hits you in the gut. Sci-fi films often deal with the ideals of spirituality, not here. Moon has been talked about as a film dealing with loneliness and this is true, but it's not just about the one man on the moon, but us as a race. This is hard sci-fi that isn't scared to remind us that we may only be an accident or a mistake and that we're doing everything to keep us occupied. It's scary thought but more which is much more interesting than the hackneyed alien god hodgepodge that lies at the end of Knowing.

It is this bold and adult look at story telling that makes Moon stand out. Jones, making his first feature length film, keeps the effects simple (and effective), while the pace and tone of the film will remind people of Alien. Jones' homages so many classic sci-fi films (Solaris, Silent Running etc) but refuses to merely ape them and brings about a film with it's own sense of being and relevance. The brilliant score from Clint Mansell (as always) only help seals the vision completely with the music managing to be both ominous and emotional at various points.

For me I found Moon to be beautiful, stunning and brilliant. It's fantastic central performance, deep themes and involving story make it one of the best I've seen this year. It's a shame that many won't get to see it until DVD next year, I however am happy to have seen it when I did.