I watched this primarily because everyone seemed to have watched it and all came back with glowing reviews. Not one person seemed to have a problem with it. I knew nothing about it – and went it with mediocre expectations because though i have seen a fair few Sci-Fi movies I would hardly say I am a Sci-Fi fan. I don’t rate Star Wars too highly and, having watched 2001: A Space Odyssey only once, I haven’t felt the impact of that. I remember briefly showing up to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy club at school and found out pretty soon that it was more Star Wars, Star Trek, Elves and stuff club. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and a passing interest in Independence Day didn’t really qualify. So, having gone into it knowing nothing I came out of the film initially perplexed.
Its a sci-fi akin to Blade Runner with regard to the themes – clones and replicants – with an aesthetic that links more to Alien rather with its white, chunky white base. Very seventies. We have Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who works alone on 3 year contract on Moon, he crashes a vehicle and when saved by a clone of himself he realises he himself is a clone. That may have given alot of it away, but alas, this is set up in the first, say, 30 minutes. Sam Rockwell needed to act his ass off, and does so successfully. He holds this film up and gives us a chance to explore the deeper subtext. We also have on board this work base Gerty – a HAL-like machine voiced by Kevin Spacey who is intentionally mysterious and ambiguous – he is helping Sam, but is also created to ‘do a job’. This is where my confusion lay – I didn’t trust Gerty. I didn’t know if we were to assume he is telling the truth or not. So, when Gerty is the one to inform the clones of who they are, I wasn’t sure if it was true. Maybe we were supposed to believe that he was lying and therefore the plot progresses. Maybe Sam is the first of all the clones and so we don’t know if he is a clone or not. Does this matter? Yes. Because there is a clear theme about the value of a clone and the value of a human, I mentally thought that there is more value in a non-clone human. When I read up on the plot post-watch, i felt that the simpleness of a plot, that I was so confused about, was so simple it lost the film some credability. Two clones on a base, the film shows what happens next. Thats so simplistic it seems upsetting… then again, that doesn’t stop the questions raised by the film without tackling the themes in the narrative. Whether or not clones have value, etc. Point is, the credability was lost as I didn’t care so much for clones so I didn’t care so much for the lead. So it is difficult to get attached to a film whereby you are not invested in the lead character at all. Especially when he looks all victorian when he has no helmet on.
The ambiguity continues into the credits as we hear earths reaction to the clones return. It is left to us to consider the wider implications of clones, drones and the constant of monotonous work. So, this is the subtext – using and abusing employees in any context is the extension of a capitalist society. What is the value of Sam Bell and his work? More importantly, what is the real value of all the work we put in? And do our bosses and managers feel the same? Is our lives the same day-to-day running, akin to Sam Bell’s life, with the hope that we will come back to our loved ones … though knowing deep down, that the monotony and dullness of our career is slowly but surely ebbing away our relationship?
Its worth mentioning the stunning soundtrack by Clint Mansell – a composer who has composed for Aronovsky’s The Fountains amongst others. The small piano riff alongside some deep bass and strange sounds gives a reall sense of loss and lonliness, while also giving the music a personal touch that reachs to the audience. A stunning soundtrack for a film that… may get better the more I watch it.