I Saw Moon on Friday

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I was excited to see Moon. Moody, cerebral thriller set on hyper-realistic one-man lunar base. Starring Sam Rockwell, apparently all by himself. It’s Cast Away meets Solaris! Except maybe good!

My excitement was slightly tempered when I found out that the director, Duncan Jones, is David Bowie’s son, because presumably if you’re David Bowie’s son people let you do whatever you want, all the time including direct movies, whether or not it’s a good idea.

But then it turns out that Moon was a good idea.

The Setup: Sam Rockwell is a regular joe working a three-year hitch on a moon base. He’s only got a few weeks to go. He misses his wife and daughter, whom he has trouble communicating with because of a comm system problem. He’s incredibly bored and lonely. His only companion is a mass-produced-looking robot assistant with the voice of Kevin Spacey.

There seems to be disagreement online about whether what happens next constitutes a spoiler. I’ll split the difference and just say: moon rover accident, mysterious person who looks exactly like Sam Rockwell.

Part of the genius of the movie is just in the production design. Everything looks both incredibly high-tech and also cheap and disposable, as if the entire future is injection-molded out of white plastic. Another part of the genius is Sam Rockwell, who is a genius. Why he isn’t cast in literally everything, I don’t know, but he was genius as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and as the redshirt in Galaxy Quest, and he’s genius in this as well.

Moon is a small movie — it’s not a towering thriller. There’s no action, though there are plot twists, and at no point in its 97 minutes is it ever boring (i.e. it’s not Solaris, though they’ll inevitably be compared to each other). It’s a character study and a kind of inquiry into how loneliness and isolation degrade your sense of who you are.

Now I just want them to hurry up and finish Iron Sky: