"Moon": a Big Disappointment
I went to see "Moon" because it had great reviews everywhere I looked and I missed it on the Edinburgh International Film Festival this June which I regretted at that time. I didn't know much about the film except for that it's a low budget sci-fi feature by a beginning director. I watched it in Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel, London which turned out not to be an ideal place for such a movie. The screen was small, the cinema and the area around it quite dodgy, people who came to watch it seemed pretty accidental. All this was a big contrast to what I got used to for the last 2 weeks on the Era New Horizons film festival in Poland where film lovers come to contemplate movies. I don't know how this all affected my perception of "Moon" but I felt that I owe you this introduction.
So, how was the goddamn movie, you're asking? And my short answer is: It was bad. I simply did not enjoy it. And here is why.
Knowing that the movie was low budget I was expecting an interesting, thought-provoking plot and a somewhat sleazy cinematography, costumes and all that stuff that characterizes low budget productions. On the contrary, I watched a movie with a simple and uninteresting plot, but with fantastic surroundings. The spaceship, the surface of the moon and everything around it make a very professional, although a bit old-school impression.
So I said the plot is not too interesting. Let me expand on it.
Duncan Jones tells us a story of an astronaut sent to the moon by his company to supervise the machinery extracting Helium-3 which turns out to be "the new oil", second-generation fusion power source. Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell) is accompanied by an intelligent computer, Gerty (does that remind you of something?). It's his last 2 weeks on the moon after spending there almost 3 years on the mission. He'll soon go back to Earth, see his wife and daughter who was born just after he left. Well... almost, as this is where the unexpected starts to happen. Sam has an accident and when he wakes up, he realizes he's not alone on the ship. He's accompanied by his own clone...
So, we have an issue about cloning, both the bodies and the brains. The issue of whether or not the clones can be considered equal to the "originals" and how to cope with the fact that there are clones of you out there. And what if you think you are original but turn out to be something else? How can you prove you're not and what to do about it?
To a person who doesn't know 2001 Space Odyssey or hasn't read Stanislaw Lem or Phillip Dick, this all may sound pretty innovative and quite deep. One might even start asking herself question about identity and those sort of things. To me however, it was the same old stuff presented again and again, with no added value whatsoever.
But... after all, it actually might be a good idea for a movie. God is -- as it often happens -- in the details. In "Moon" the story is told in a very conventional, very direct way. Everything happens too quickly. We all find out the mystery too soon and there is not much room for speculation afterwards. The director shows us the whole thing asking to contemplate. I don't know about you but I felt that I'm being treated like an idiot who needs to be told everything word-for-word.
And it's a shame as the cinematography is just fantastic, the movie has potential to have a very unique atmosphere and manages to keep you with this specific feeling of anxiety and admiration for the first half an hour or so only to leave you disappointed and asking "so is this all?" afterwards...
Was it really worth making a film with a story like that presented this way? I'll let you answer this questions yourself. Personally I felt a bit cheated as I was expecting some freshness, some provocation, some innovation. And all I got was a shallow story packed in a nice looking box branded "contemporary". Quite a comedown, don't you think?