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Astronaut Sam Bell casts a lonely figure as he nears the end of a three-year contract that has him living on the far side of the moon mining Helium-3, a key source of energy in our not-so-distant future. Because his satellite's busted, he's only able to receive taped messages and has no contact with anyone other than a simple-minded computer named "Gerty." Just as he's looking forward to returning to his wife and young daughter, he becomes physically and mentally impaired and is forced into recuperation. It's there that he meets his younger clone, who claims he is there to perform the same exact mission Sam started three years earlier. Working against time and suffering hallucinations, Sam tries to find out what's going on and where his future is really heading.


Moon is, for all intents and purposes, a one-man show brilliantly played by Sam Rockwell in a role reportedly written directly for him. He's certainly up to the task of playing a man cut off from direct human contact who suddenly comes face-to-face with himself — or at least a slightly different version. Rockwell succeeds in making both characters viable and delivers a feat of controlled acting few could pull off as effectively. In a mixed-bag film that strikes right at the heart of alienation and paranoia, Rockwell movingly portrays a man whose control of his own life is slipping away. The other characters exist on the periphery of the story, but special mention should be made of Kevin Spacey's voice work as "Gerty," the nice but unsophisticated computer that becomes Rockwell's main sparring partner in the film.


Director Duncan Jones, son of rocker David Bowie, makes his feature debut with Moon. Working with a sparse independent movie budget, Jones creates an impressive and believable-looking version of a complicated outerspace mining operation, but wisely avoids the temptation of letting the film's technological aspects overpower the piece. Instead, he puts the focus on the human story and a fascinating tour-de-force by Rockwell, which forges the heart of the film.


Moon is said to be something of an homage to austere sci-fi classics like Silent Running, Outland and Stanley Kubrick's iconic 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey — the latter of which, in particular, has many story elements in common with this film. Unfortunately, Jones' tribute feels a little too familiar, and it would not be strange if the audience gets a strong feeling of déjà vu. Even though the above films are cited for inspiration, the very internal mechanism that drives the film tends to be more a cerebral exercise in the vein of Steven Soderbergh's lumbering 2002 Solaris remake, the slowest-moving George Clooney movie ever made.


Rockwell's first encounter with himself is hypnotic and temporarily rescues the film from its glacial pacing.


Netflix. Moon tends to be sleep-inducing, so by watching it at home you can at least wake up and press rewind. rated this film 2 stars.