Film, Science fiction
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

We know that Duncan Jones is David Bowie’s son, but, more importantly, is his feature debut any good? The answer is a resounding – if qualified – yes, judging by this 1970s-sci-fi throwback, which, for a modern space movie about the knock-on effects on man of future technology, is unusually thoughtful, good-looking and well-acted. Sam Rockwell (below) is Sam Bell, a nervous lone astronaut on the moon where, at some point in the near future, a corporation is mining Helium-3, now the source of most global energy. It’s Bell’s job to manage this operation in the company of a sympathetic robot called Gerty (one of several nods to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’). When we first meet him, Bell’s three-year stint is almost complete, but he’s tired and unhinged – symptoms, no doubt, of solitude and having to communicate with his wife and young child by taped messages as the satellite is broken…

If that last fact sounds a bit too convenient, that’s the point: all is not what it seems. Jones has created a credible theatre in which to stage a meditative play on isolation and identity within the bounds of wild fiction, the edges of which are curiously blurred. Less is more in Jones’s eye: he knows that big ideas can be lost amid noisy gestures so keeps his drama within the confines of a few rooms, with only the odd, more poetic moment unfolding outside on the moon’s surface. As the film goes on, early ideas about loneliness segue into a more troubling (and confusing) study of corporate exploitation and even – here’s a biggie – what it means to be human, when a second Sam Bell, a clone also played by Rockwell, appears and shakes up all perceptions of what’s going on. The film is not entirely logical, but it raises pleasing questions and looks beautiful.


Release details

Release date:
Friday July 17 2009
97 mins

Cast and crew

Duncan Jones
Nathan Parker
Sam Rockwell
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