Posted July 1, 2009 by William Dunmyer in Uncategorized

Moon: Intelligent, Eerie Science Fiction

“Moon” is the first feature film from director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) and screenwriter Nathan Parker. Let’s hope these gentlemen continue working together because they are quite a team.

In “Moon” they have produced the best science-fiction film since 2007’s “Sunshine” (the wonderful, inexplicably overlooked film that Danny Boyle directed before “Slumdog Millionaire”). “Sunshine” and “Moon” have quite a bit in common. Both are intelligent, eerie, male-driven, and stylish. They also have a quiet power about them that reminds me of the original “Alien.” Jones certainly knows how to pull an audience in using the power and menace of silence.

At the start of “Moon” we meet Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell), who lives by himself on the moon, serving as the sole human caretaker of a largely automated mine. He has been on the moon three years but is on the verge of going home to Earth, where he will reunite with his wife and daughter. Just two weeks are left on his contract.

But suddenly strange things start to happen. He first sees ethereal visions of a young woman, then is mysteriously rescued after having an accident in a lunar craft. Is there someone else on the moon with him, or is he losing his mind? Jones and Parker slowly and carefully tell this story of madness and mystery the way a spider spins a web, one delicate strand at a time. Their storytelling skills are exceptional.

Typically, intelligent films get more elliptical as they proceed, but the reverse is the case with “Moon.” Initially there is a lot of mystery, with the ordinary realms of space and time getting transcended several times. But in the end, the mysteries get explained in quite a logical way. This for me was actually disappointing, making the film more like an episode of “The Twilight Zone” than a companion to “2001: A Space Odyssey.” As each mystery got explained, the film contained less and less philosophical depth.

I think what people will remember most about “Moon” is its trippy and mystical first half, not its rather logical second half. There’s something quite deflating about art that allows itself to be hemmed in by science. There is no doubt, “Moon” is a good and intelligent film. I just wish it had a deeper appreciation for the aspects of life (and the universe) that cannot be explained by a high-school science teacher.

William Dunmyer

William Dunmyer is a lifelong cinephile who fell in love with movies at about the age of 5. He lives in New York City.