Starmen

06/10/2009 4:00 AM |

Moon
Directed by Duncan Jones

An exploration of space madness, the modern married man and corporate ethics, Moon stars Sam Rockwell and Sam Rockwell. The beloved indie actor plays Sam Bell (rhymes with Sam Rockwell), an exhaustion-eyed employee of a green corporation sitting in a tin can far above the world, on a three-year contract to manage, solo, a clean-energy mining operation on the far side of earth’s only satellite. Showing his range, the always-remarkable Rockwell also plays a healthier, angrier and three-years-younger version of Bell, a clone who turns up when Bell One is injured on the job and wakes up in sickbay.

A glum, existential, psycho-philosophical mystery rooted in the tropes of retro sci-fi, the wonderful feature debut of director Jones, né Zowie Bowie, boasts a conspicuous debt of influence to 2001, both in its outer space contemplativeness and the tactility of its pale production design — not to mention the inclusion of a robot sidekick, voiced sonorously by Kevin Spacey (in a role he was born to play!).

But the two films’ themes diverge: Moon concerns technology’s effect on human development less than it uses futuristic engineering to grapple with matters of identity; here, a changed man is given the chance literally to confront his old self, the hothead who drove his wife away. Who’s the real Sam Bell? And, really, who’s the clone? Moon also deals with the poignant tragedy of the carbon-based copy, which is a manufactured object, but with real feelings. And as a bonus, the movie posits the film’s eco-friendly corporate giant as unsettlingly utilitarian, as a reminder that even the ostensibly responsible are secretly up to no good. “Trust no one” is the cynical subtext, not even yourself — at least until you figure out who you really are.

Opens June 12