In the future, space stations can be operated and maintained by one man. There are not many accommodations for said employee though, "human" comforts consist of video chats and a small robot named GERTY. The station is largely self-sufficient, but an engineer must remain there for repairs. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is finishing out the remainder of his contract with the company that mines helium from surface rocks on the Moon.
Dealing with the mind-bending isolation of being alone on the moon is taking its toll on Sam. Sam's wife and daughter wait for him at home on Earth, although as Sam's time on the Moon stretches he begins to believe someone lurks waiting to replace him there too. His short time away from home in nearing an end and he finds that a welcome relief. An unexpected visitor arrives at the station looks to change that. There really isn't a lot that can be said about the plot without spoiling the entire thing, so I will have to leave you in the dark.
Sam Rockwell really works through the drudgery of being the lone actor in the film and sinks his teeth into the thankless task of being Sam Bell. Rockwell has carved out a comfortable niche for himself playing supporting characters, but he shines in his solo turn in Moon. Roles like this rarely receive any attention during awards season though he is more than deserving of accolades. Hopefully Sony Pictures Classics can make that happen.
Kevin Spacey provides the voice of GERTY, but despite the voice similarities don't expect some 2001-esque turn, GERTY just provides meager companionship for Sam.
Vacuous space prevents an existential horror of sorts, if you stare into the abyss long enough, it stares back. How anyone could be expected to remain solitary for three years is a mystery. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that even non-carbon life forms such as HAL would lose their way.
That director Duncan Jones replicates a big-budget picture with a fraction of the cost speaks to his abilities to mold miniatures, practical effects and other wizardry into something resembling a living, breathing space station. What makes that feat more impressive is that this is Jones' first feature film. Jones turns in a movie that could have been manipulated into empty spectacle, but instead digs into the consciousness of living and what it really means to be human.