Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com
Director: Duncan Jones
Notable Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey (voice only)
What kind of man decides to spend three years on the moon? Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is that kid of man, doing it for a wife and child back at home on Earth. But after an accident, and recovering the body of another person in his area who shouldn’t be there, Sam is in for a rude awakening on the nature of life and death. Moon, the debut of music video impresario Duncan Jones, is a grandiose debut that garners more questions than the answers it can provide.
To discuss the plot would be to spoil the film, but the film’s focus is on Sam and his reaction to the divulging of a major part of his life. It’s mainly a one man film, with Kevin Spacey voicing the robot GERTY who helps him perform his duties, and it’s interesting to see Sam Rockwell in what essentially is a one man show. The film’s fortunes rest solely on him and he delivers for the most part.
Rockwell is put in a position not too many actors would like to be in; being the one and only person in a film. For an actor with such a diverse resume of mainly supporting roles, this is a big step. <Choke was a box office failure but Rockwell’s first major leading role and Moon is a better film and a better part. Sam Bell is a guy trying to figure out what is happening to him and why events have conspired to place him in the situation he finds himself in. With nothing but Kevin Spacey’s voice to play off of, Rockwell takes a solidly written part and makes it magnetic. While we have no choice but to watch Rockwell due to the nature of the film, he delivers wonderfully to the point where he would command a screen filled with half a dozen actors. It’s a veritable acting clinic on how to express nuanced emotion.
He ought to be a much bigger star by now but Rockwell hasn’t taken as many high profile roles as an actor of his quality should to gain an A-list status. He’s been a mainstay of the indy circuit and with a major part in Iron Man 2 next summer, as well as a quality supporting turn in last year’s prestige picture Frost/Nixon, and Moon could be his last major independent role before the Marvel comic sequel turns him into much more of a household name. If it is he picked a tremendous project; this is an Academy worthy performance.
As a debut film, Jones has crafted a film that looks and feels much bigger than the $5 million budget it was shot on. He’s managed to convert a sound stage into something much more; there is nothing cheesy or bad looking about this picture. The visuals are impressive and Jones is deliberate in his direction. He’s avoiding the trap of allowing his visuals to dominate; instead using them to further the idea of the man alone. The film’s main thesis is about how one person can react to that feeling of infinite loneliness. What would he hold on to? How would he handle it? Why would a man spend three years away from his family? These are the questions that Jones wants us to ponder while he shows us the life of Sam Bell. It makes for an interesting intellectual exercise as well as a unique sort of discourse on the subject.
Moon may be in only a handful of theatres but is well worth the search.