Sam Rockwell, Moon

Liberty Films UK

Review in A Hurry: Yes! Clone-wars! Sad Space men! Philosophical musings on the enduring nature of man's soul! Sam Rockwell gives a virtuoso performance in this small scale but ambitious story about a lonely astronaut trapped in space. It's the like The Shining in moonboots!

The Bigger Picture: It's startling to be confronted with a director who trusts his audience as much as Duncan Jones (aka David Bowie's son) does. With a dinky budget and a one-man cast, Jones offers a 97 minute meditation on ethics of the space age (clones, isolation, evil space corporations). And it works. He delivers a spartan, sci-fi flick that's ponderous and haunting.

For three years, astronaut/moon rock miner Sam Bell has been living and working inside a small, antiseptic space station. His sole comforts are slimy beans, taped messages from his wife, and an eerily subservient robot named Gurty (voiced by Kevin Spacey).

As the final two weeks of his mission approach, Sam's mental and physical health start to rapidly deteriorate. Sam becomes hallucinatory and paranoid.

There's a man in the background of his wife's taped messages. Gurty has clandestine conversations with Sam's shady Company. And here's the real kicker: Sam's replacement has boarded the ship and he's a younger, healthier version of Sam. The calm all-white interior of the lunar station starts to resemble a padded cell as Sam works through his madness and tries to solve the mystery of the clone. Or is it HIMSELF? Who is he? Who knows? Is it totally fascinating to watch? Yes!

Rockwell, stalwart of oddball, creepy characters gives an agile performance as the two Sams. It's a tough balancing act between Sad Wistful Sick Sam and Angry Young Man Sam but Rockwell pulls it off. And Jones' wholehearted devotion to the character(s) and the spooky mood makes Moon a first-rate sci-fi flick.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The build-up is way slow and weighs down the narrative. If you lopped off the first twenty minutes you could have a perfect movie.

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