Tonight I saw Moon, starring Sam Rockwell.
Films about loneliness will always keep our attention because no matter what our background, finances, marital status or age, we can all at times be vulnerable to it.
In Moon Sam (Rockwell) has reached the end of his lonely rope. He is in the final days of his three-year corporate mission to the moon (yes, THE moon) to help mine clean energy, and is desperate to return to his wife and daughter on earth.
We witness him going about his daily tasks—eating, working out, tending to 'house' plants, etc. We even see him watching the obligatory obviously-not-live television as he barely pays attention to a classic episode of Bewitched. If the TV technique weren't so over-used (i.e. Wall-E and I Am Legend), it would help reinforce the isolation, but it doesn't need to in this film. The cold white of the walls and surroundings mixed with the industrial nature of just about everything (right down to Sam's helpful robot Gerty, voiced by Kevin Spacey) tell us we're in a place devoid of love and warmth.
As Sam gets closer to his return date, his health begins to deteriorate and hallucinations materialize (or at least they appear to). One of these sightings causes him to wreck the vehicle he's using to complete his work "outside" on the surface of said moon. Next thing he knows, he's awake in the moon station infirmary seeing himself outside of his body. But he's not dead—and for me to say anymore would be to spoil, so I'll have to stop there.
What I can say is that Director Duncan Jones (coincidentally also David Bowie's son) creates a very realistic exterior for what the moon must somewhat be like. The quiet darkness he invokes results in a strange feelings of peace contrasted by hollowness. When the tires of the work vehicles scrape across the dirt, you can almost feel grains of dust in your mouth.
Also, the performance by Sam Rockwell, who plays against no one else, is all of the things it should be: funny, confusing, heartbreaking, life-affirming and frustrating. He's well cast and well-played. Of course, something should also be said about Kevin Spacey's voicing of Gerty. It sounds like an easy task, but to evoke emotion from a screen that registers different emoticons based on what it's saying can't have been that simple. His intonation and soothing tones make the ideal "humanized" machine.
All in all it's a very classic science fiction journey wrapped up in a modern-day pod. What makes it good is its exploration of people needing people, no matter where or when they are.