Moon Review
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I’m always a bit skeptical of the cinematic one-man show. After all, very few actors have the ability (or the stamina) to capture an audience’s attention single-handedly—and hold it for 90 minutes. In fact, some of the most skillful actors have failed the one-man-show test quite miserably—even when they were backed by big studio budgets and the most cutting-edge effects. Still, Sam Rockwell somehow manages to pull it off in the simple, low-budget indie, Moon.

In this sci-fi thriller, Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, an astronaut who’s approaching the final days of his three-year contract with Lunar, a company that’s been mining Helium-3 to provide energy on Earth. For the last three years, Sam has been completely alone—with only his memories and Lunar’s robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) to keep him company.

With just two weeks to go before his long-awaited trip home to his wife and young daughter, strange things start happening to Sam. It seems that his mind is playing tricks on him. After an accident lands him in the infirmary for observation, Sam notices that GERTY is acting strangely—and he starts to wonder if things on the moon aren’t exactly as he once thought.

Moon isn’t the action-packed, effects-driven adventure that you’d expect from a sci-fi thriller. In fact, there’s nothing big or bold or flashy about it. Instead, it’s simple and quiet, slowly building in suspense—and in pace—as more of the story is revealed. Since I can’t tell you too much more about the plot without spoiling all the fun, I’ll just say that it’s intriguing and thoughtful—and it will easily keep you captivated.

In his feature-length debut, director Duncan Jones (son of rocker David Bowie) manages to set the mood well (with the help of cinematographer Gary Shaw, of course)—even on a small budget. Inside the space station, it’s stark and severe—with very few personal touches, other than a few family photos and Sam’s hand-carved village. Outside, on the cratered surface of the moon, it’s dark and desolate—every bit as barren and lonely as it is inside. It’s eerily quiet, the perfect setting for the lone character’s introspection—and his chilling discovery.

The starkness of the sets makes the role even more challenging for Rockwell—who still takes it all in stride. Instead of facing the challenge with over-the-top theatrics, he takes a straightforward approach. His performance is simple and often understated—yet, somehow, it works. His character is just a likeable Average Joe. He’s tired and lonely, and he can’t wait to go home to his family—but then, suddenly, everything changes.

At a time of year when theaters are full of effects and explosions and all-star casts, a simple but stunning film like Moon is just the thing to cleanse your movie-going palate.

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