Moon is one of those slow, understated mystery movies, that emphasizes the prime purpose of movies: storytelling above all else. Restricted to the stark and claustrophobic confines of a moon base, the movie traces the last days of solitary life for Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), as he gets ready to head back to Earth after his stint managing mining operations for a critical clean-energy resource found only on the Moon.

As Sam goes about completing his missions, he begins to see and hear things that are not supposed to be. He keeps this from the lone humanoid presence on the base, the robot GERTY (Kevin Spacey), to not let anything interfere with the reunification with his wife and child on Earth. But, an unfortunate accident with a Harvester sets in motion a series of events that brings him that much closer to coming back to Earth and that much farther from home.

Eschewing dramatic scores for the sounds of the everyday, the movie sets up a feeling of loneliness and solitude. This is further accentuated by the clinical whiteness of the moon bunker, echoing Sam's state of mind. For a movie shot in 2009, it has a remarkably retro feel to it - some scenes almost paying homage to The Clockwork Orange. The viewer is successfully pulled into the brooding world of Sam, and as things go bad for him, cannot help but internalize his struggle for existence.

The movies under-emphasizes the science part with almost no reference to the "how" beyond what is strictly required for the plot to unfold. In doing so, it brings two actors to the forefront - man and the unknown company that put him alone in the middle of the Earth's lone satellite. In essence this is a story about the struggle of man - against the elements, against the upcoming resource crunch on Earth and against the ever present greedy corporation. Yet it doesn't turn preachy or Luddite but is a rather uncomfortably personal exploration of these themes.

It is almost required by space movies to have references to the grand daddy of them all - 2001 Space Odyssey, and the Moon does not disappoint with parts of the set, the daily activities and GERTY resembling HAL 9000. Shot with a budget of $5 million, this is no Space Odyssey, but is nevertheless an absorbing tale.

October 10, 2010


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