***Spoiler warnings! This review discusses some of the finer points of Moon which do contain a few spoilers, read at your own risk!***
I love science fiction, a fact that has been established on our show a number of times. It’s fair to say that Primer changed the way I look at the genre in regards to films, I now have this ridiculously high standard when it comes to narrative but also low standard when it comes to effects or other aspects of the film. It’s a strange way to watch a film genre being equally hyper-critical and lovingly forgiving. In Primer for example some of the sound mixing is very poor but you can forgive it easily considering the film’s painfully restrictive budget and how well it achieves its main goal of portraying a convincing depiction of time travel and the breakdown of a once close friendship. It’s hard to describe but this is the kind of mentality that I took into the cinema when I saw Moon recently.
Moon has often been compared to such stalwarts of the sci fi genre such as 2001 and Silent Running, it’s easy to see why. The film wears its influences on its sleeve with a heartfelt sincerity that’s instantly endearing. From the grainy and dirty look of the station exteriors to the pseudo-1970s design of the interiors, this film is already steeped in science fiction history from the very start. Everything in this film is a treat to fans of the genre. The premise, the design, the characters, everything.
The crux of the narrative reads like a thousand early Philip K Dick short stories. A lone worker on a Moon base carrying out the kind of maintenance that robots can’t perform wakes up in the base infirmary after suffering an accident outside on the surface. When he goes back out to investigate the crash he discovers his own body in the wreckage. What a hook! This kind of high concept science fiction is exactly what I look for in a film and Moon delivers on every level.
Considering Sam Rockwell is essentially the only visible cast member bar the ones we see fleetingly on video screens, he does a remarkable job of pulling the audience through the film. You’re with him every step and he carries the right amount of emotional weight during the heavier scenes while expertly judging the shifts in tone to more lighter comedic moments. It’s an incredibly detailed and rich performance, a performance that this film really needs its lead actor to command otherwise it’d be a crushingly dull flick.
Moon is played out with a conviction and reverence to science fiction sensibilities that’s sometimes overwhelming. Just like Primer, I couldn’t quite believe how perfect the film is in its purity as a good slice of sci fi. For all its little faults Moon is a spectacularly entertaining story near-flawlessly told.