July 27, 2009

Moon then. It’s a very good film, especially in the context of what has been a somewhat disappointing summer for movies. Directed by Duncan Jones (known as Zowie Bowie to his dad, David) his first feature is an ostensibly British film with American Sam Rockwell as the lead. The American lead is by no means a bad thing, mostly adding a certain legitimacy to the plot, and I imagine that if this Sci-Fi film had a Brit in the leading role the story would have felt considerably less believable considering our limited track record on space exploration. Also Sam Rockwell is a likable actor who carries the role really well, and support from Kevin Spacey as the voice of his A.I. computer buddy is nicely underplayed and no where near as tacky as I’ve made it sound. I would advise that you go see it now whilst you can because it won’t hang around for long thanks to its small budget and lack of uber-star power. In fact, go and see it before you read the rest of this review, then come back and let me know what you thought.

I’ll wait.

Right, did you enjoy? It’s hard to go into the plot without spoiling it (and I shan’t), but it is thought provoking and drags up a couple of moral issues without overplaying them or letting them get in the way of telling an engaging story. Rockwell’s isolated Moon worker Sam Bell is allowed to develop as a character, partly as a result of the main plot device and partly because of the quality of the writing, and whilst the revelations and evolutions aren’t as radical as those found in 2001 they completely bypass Sci-Fi stereotypes. Very refreshing indeed.

Another area in which this film is suitably subversive is genre. It feels like a Sci-Fi Horror film in the Alien vein at times, particularly in the early stages when the viewer isn’t privy to all of the information. However, as tension is built sporadically and maintained in the background the film avoids the clichés of the genre and is all the better for it. It is at times tranquil, at times tense, creating a paradoxical sense of ‘realism’ around the core narrative that is as engrossing as it is distinctive. Don’t expect it to completely flip all of the Sci-Fi standards on their head, Moon has its fair share of conventional aspects, but they are never self-serving and are certainly not distracting.

The set design, retro costumes and unfussy camerawork bridge the gap between the classical elements and the modernity of the setting. I left with a floaty light feeling as the anti-gravity stuff works incredibly well considering the limited budget. I also left Moon feeling satisfied and wanting to have a good old think about things. That’s not necessarily because it asks many relevant questions about contemporary issues, but because it wants us to take another look at the human condition ourselves without forcing a particular view on the audience.


3 Responses to “Moon”

  1. Joachim Boaz Says:

    I loved this film! Some sci-fi minimalism in the otherwise prevalent fad of ostentatious and gaudy sci-fi (Avatar for instance) is very welcome!

  2. fungalporpoise Says:

    Hi Joachim,

    You’re absolutely right. Avatar was vulgar and simple in its message, generic, too long and intense in its irritation of myself because of how much money it made. Moon was none of the above, and a film I need to watch again 🙂

  3. Joachim Boaz Says:

    Moon made more than one might think — especially in Britain. But yes, I got one of the worst headaches I’ve ever experienced attempting to watch Avatar in 3d.

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