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You’ll See Double

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Moon is the astounding one-man tour de force of Sam Rockwell (Choke, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). Written specifically for the actor by newcomer Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie), Moon is a sci-fi flick that recalls the original Alien more than it does contemporary films in the genre. Made on a shoestring budget of only $5 million, it boasts incredible visual effects but is, at its core, a very moving character study. The film is a much needed entry to the sci-fi canon to illustrate that the genre wasn’t, and isn’t, always about big budgets and explosions. Sometimes it’s about using a new point of view to look at the true nature of what it means to be a human being.

The focus of the film is on Sam Bell (Rockwell) who is nearing the end of a 3-year contract as an isolated Helium-3 miner on the Moon. Helium3 (which really does exist) is a new resource that is reversing Earth’s energy crisis, and is harvested on the Moon. However, Bell is anxious to return home after being stranded without direct communication to Earth and with a robot named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) as his only companion. As he prepares for his final weeks, odd things begin to happen around him. After an accident, he wakes up to actually find another person on board -- and he just happens to look exactly like him. To say much more would be a crime and would rob the viewer of a fresh perspective on the film, which is needed to fully appreciate it.

In some sense it has a similar feel to Children of Men where the background plot is more of a ploy to illuminate one man’s journey within that world. In another it is, again, like Alien in that it is one person’s claustrophobic adventure on a space station. However, a lot of the success of the film is due, undeniably, to Sam Rockwell. It’s utterly astonishing how well he carries a film as, basically, its only actor. Rockwell’s only interaction comes in the form of GERTY, the robot, and himself. In both instances, Rockwell is never playing off another actor and he still manages to make every second exciting and suspenseful.

He is able to bring a real emotional depth to the character, which allows the audience to become lost in Sam. It’s hard to imagine any other actor that would be able to put up such a performance in carrying an entire film -- especially when the only other actor he works with is himself. The only rival performance is perhaps Nicolas Cage’s in Adaptation, who also played two characters.

Jones may wear his influences on his sleeve, such as the already mentioned Aliens and GERTY’s inclusion will definitely draw comparisons to 2001: A Space Odyssey in conjunction with the films serene and slow atmosphere. But Jones is able to take all of these obvious influences and use them in a constructive way to build up assumptions only to shatter them later on. With Moon both Jones and Rockwell confirm that they are true cinematic forces to be reckoned with.