Sam Bell is a lonely man. He is the solitary employee at a mining base on the Moon, with only the base's computer, Gerty, to keep him company. He's nearing the end of his 3 year contract, and can't wait to get back home to his wife and young daughter. The communications are such that he has to record video messages to his family and send them out, because there's no live feed off of the Moon. Sam keeps an eye on all of the mining outposts, and sends containers of Helium-3 energy back to Earth when enough has been mined. But after nearly 3 years alone, Sam is starting to crack up. He begins having hallucinations, and accidentally crashes his vehicle into one of the mining units. He wakes up in the infirmary with no recollection of the crash, other than Gerty telling him that he's had an accident and must go through some tests before he can return to work. He gets even more confused when he is able to sneak away from base and check out the crash site, and finds in the cab of the vehicle, the body of Sam Bell. Has he gone completely crazy, or is there something happening that he doesn't know about?
Sam is brilliantly played by Sam Rockwell, one of the best and most underappreciated actors working today. It's the best performance I've seen so far this year. Although we have Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) also around, Rockwell is the only human that we don't see simply through video messages. The entire film rests on his shoulders, and he's fascinating in the role. We believe that Sam is going a little nutty, but even he doesn't know what to believe at first. He's flabbergasted to find himself in the cab of the vehicle, and I never doubted once that these two Sam's were occupying the same space when they're both onscreen. Rockwell will hopefully not be forgotten once award season rolls around, because both he and the movie deserve the attention.
Moon is the first feature film by director Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie. He shows a remarkably sure hand, not afraid to let us be just as confused as Sam is as to what's going on, and why. He also doesn't let the movie get boring, which is always nice. Although it is certainly slow paced, something interesting, either on the surface or below it, is always happening, we're always engaged. The look of the movie is obviously greatly inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but Jones just takes inspiration from there, I never felt like he was copying Kubrick either in the visuals or in the atmosphere of the movie. He took inspiration, but Jones has created a masterpiece that is his own.