Movies don’t get anymore underrated than Duncan Jones’ feature film debut. An incredibly polished, downright original & thoroughly engrossing effort that’s brought to life with remarkable care, brims with endless passion & stays firmly grounded throughout its runtime, Moon is a masterwork of sci-fi filmmaking that presents the first-time filmmaker in complete control of his craft, is deftly scripted from start to finish, and is all the more boosted by Sam Rockwell’s heartbreaking performance & Clint Mansell’s sensational score.
Set in the near future, the story of Moon presents a world in which Earth’s power crisis has been solved by Lunar Industries through mining an alternative fuel from lunar rocks. Stationed at their almost entirely automated lunar facility is Sam Bell whose 3-year work contract requires him to maintain operations and his only companion all this time has been an artificial intelligence named GERTY who assists with base’s automation. Things are set in motion when Bell encounters something personal towards the end of his stint.
Co-written & directed by Duncan Jones, Moon is crafted with confidence and the director’s creativity shines above all as he manages to give his project a very sophisticated look & feel despite its modest budget. The story taps on our familiarity with the genre yet puts greater emphasis on its plot & characters instead of revelling in its futuristic sci-fi elements. In short, Jones has done an amazing job in transitioning this story on the film canvas, maintaining a fine control over every single aspect, and pacing it with such finesse that every viewer will be able to get on board with it.
From the technical standpoint, this is a film that isn’t affected by budget constraints and successfully manages to come up with creative ways to realise its envisioned tale on the film canvas in its entirety. Production design team deserves kudos, for their expertly designed & meticulously detailed set pieces add an authentic vibe to the film’s settings. Cinematography is another highlight as the fluid camerawork, apt colour tones & clever lighting provide an added intensity to its images while Editing makes sure that each scene is relevant to the plot and unfolds it all in a streamlined fashion.
Coming to the performances, Sam Rockwell is an absolute revelation in the role of Sam Bell, and delivers a neat, suave & wonderfully balanced input that still remains his best work to date. It was a bold move from the director to let the fate of this film be decided by a single performance but Rockwell plays his part so well that it’s difficult to imagine someone else in the given role. Adding more flavours to this key aspect is Kevin Spacey whose calm demeanour & relaxed voice gives GERTY a soul of its own. And last but not the least, Clint Mansell’s emotionally-stirring score elevates the experience to a whole new level, and it remains one of his finest compositions.
On an overall scale, Moon is one of the rarest gems & most under-appreciated works of 21st century cinema that not only ranks as one of the best films of its year but also deserves a place amongst the finest examples of its genre. A smart, slick & promising start to Duncan Jones’ directorial career, scoring high on both scientific realism & storytelling aspects, and overflowing with existential themes that paint a heartfelt portrait of what it means to be a human, Moon is science-fiction in its purest form that discards the usual distractions and focuses entirely on the emotional journey of its character. Outstandingly directed, deftly written, gorgeously photographed, tightly edited, beautifully scored & brilliantly performed, Moon comes strongly recommended. Do not miss it.