Oct 27, 2009
I think I mentioned recently that I have removed the 'Last Saturday Movie Reviews' from the site. It's not that I don't have a lot of reviews already in the can, it was more that eventually I'd run out and there just aren't that many movies lately that I've felt the need to review.
There are always exceptions, however, and recently I got a chance to see a really beautiful little movie called Moon. To give the briefest of summaries, it's a film about a near future where mankind mines the moon for energy. On the moon, a solitary operator keeps things going for 3 year stints before going back home to Earth. Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, who is a mere 2 weeks from going back to his wife child and is beginning to feel the weight of his isolated stay so far. The story really picks up when Sam has an accident out on the surface, then finds himself back in the infirmary with no idea how he got there.
I won't go into more detail so that you can experience the story on your own, but beyond the plot points is the real heart of the film. What this movie is really about is our existence as people, and what tethers you to our humanity. One of the great things the movie does is play with our conceptions of what makes a person.
Good example of this GERTY, the A.I. that operates the base with Sam and is charged with his safety. In the extremely minimal cast of the film, GERTY gradually becomes another person, as much a character who we connect to as Sam. The amazing part of this is that GERTY is quite clearly NOT a person. He is designed as a throwback to the older 70's conception of a robot, big and blocky with hardly any ability to convey expression besides a simplistic LCD that shows a few smiley or frowny faces. Even as this very simplistic automaton we begin to regard him as another being in the space with Sam. Unlike, say, R2-D2, who has some quirky mannerisms that evoke a child but never seems anything BUT a robot, GERTY evolves into a true presence. As the film progresses, you'll start to sense real motive behind his actions, something that seems a simple accomplishment but really isn't for a non-human entity.
Beyond GERTY, Sam Rockwell does an astounding job in a movie that really demands he act with himself most of the time. There are long periods of complete lack of interaction, like the movie Cast Away, where the actor must fill every inch of the frame with himself. We luck out in that Rockwell manages it very well, and portrays the struggle of man trying to keep his grip with true realism.
None of this would work, in my view, without the stunningly sparse score provided by Clint Mansell. The music works with the film in laying out the vast emptiness of the moon, yet still manages to punctuate the often intense moments that come in Sam's story. I ordered the soundtrack almost immediately after the movie ended.
In the end, this movie is very simple but deeply moving. It's a great examination of the human spirit, and for fans of films like 2001 or Logan's Run, it will provide a welcome break from the usually special effects heavy but thematically light sci-fi fare that has become the norm.