Edinburgh Film Festival: Moon review

Carl's first update from the Edinburgh International Film Festive takes in Sam Rockwell in Moon...

Moon is a film that will inevitably be called a copycat of 2001: A Space Odyssey. In truth, yes, this film does owe that film quite a bit, considering its story and isolated style. But that’s only during the set up. What this film does is so much further ahead of anything I could have imagined when I was walking in.

Moon tells the story of Sam Bell, played brilliantly by the almost solitary Sam Rockwell, an astronaut who has been commissioned by a corporation to monitor machines which harness the energy held within rocks on the surface of the moon for fuel. For almost three years, Sam has been on the moon separated from Earth by constant satellite malfunctions, his only contact via recorded video bounced back off a satellite too far for a live feed to be sent. His only real companionship comes in the form of a Hal-like computer played quite robustly by Kevin Spacey, and even then, he only has emoticons and a robot arm for Sam to connect with. Needless to say, Sam starts seeing things, and generally going a bit nutty.

While genially humorous and dramatic in spades, the film is overall very creepy, and it mainly stems from Duncan Jones’ intentionally isolated vibe and sparse soundtrack, the little of which provided by all round genius Clint Mansell. Every scene though, feels well thought out, as with any shot of the exterior, or indeed the interior, of the moon base is very intricate and gives the film a sense of depth usually only found in real life of documentaries. It’s certainly rare in sci-fi.

Of course, the bit I’m avoiding talking about is the big twist. The great thing about it is that Moon doesn’t rely on it to bring the film to a close or a climax. In fact, it happens about half way into the film, leaving the rest of the running time to deal with that, and also to move on from it, showing Sam Rockwell’s acting talent broadening with every minute of screentime. The effects on the moon are akin to the Red Dwarf model work (i.e. great), and the production is of a high standard. The direction joins that party as the director makes some stunning choices to show the true wealth of the set design.

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If you’ve heard already that the film is brilliant, then you won’t hear different from me, as I was astounded, entertained, and loved the style and class with which this dark tale was presented. It’s a definite must see and it is worth almost every star garnished upon it. The only thing that causes this not to get a five is the very thing I had just praised. The twist is great, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that the mystery of the twist is dealt with very rationally, and not with the kind of complete mind fuck that most people would associate with it. Of course, that is a very small qualm, as the film survives it and uses it to a much greater purpose.

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4 out of 5