(We're reposting our Moon review from the Sundance Film Festival in advance of the film's theatrical release this weekend)
By: James Rocchi
"You haul 16 tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
St. Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store. ..."
-- "Sixteen Tons," Merle Travis
Know thyself. -- Solon of Athens
Moon, the directorial debut of Duncan Jones, opens with a bright, breezy bit of corporate propaganda explaining how, in the film's near-future, clean energy is provided by fusion fueled by hydrogen wrenched from lunar mineral deposits on the dark side of the Moon. Sam Rockwell is Sam Bell, who runs a fuel-harvesting station, aided only by the base's A.I., GERTY (given voice by Kevin Spacey). Sam is nearing the end of his three-year contract, and it's been a lonely stint; he's got only two weeks left, but he's on the thin edge. The communications satellite is down, so Sam can't talk to Earth -- his bosses, his wife -- directly; for all of the high-tech trappings and whiz-bang science of his work, Sam's a hard rock miner. And that's always been dangerous work.
Moon evokes many things -- the nature of the human experience, the nature of employee-management relations, how the odds are fairly good that the future will be exactly like today, but more so. With all of its far-flung inventions, impeccable visual design and Clint Mansell's eerie score, Moon boils down to a single man having a long conversation in isolation, telling himself a few lies and opening his own eyes to a few truths; Rockwell, playing the only person for tens of thousands of miles, has no one else to act against, and much of his plight has to be conveyed through special effects that gave him little or nothing to work with on-set.