The film has heavy shadings of three space classics: 2001, Solaris and Silent Running, both in the way it's designed and in its quiet examination of human nature. When reality starts slipping from his grasp, Sam faces an existential crisis and must figure out who he is regardless of what anyone has told him.
And this is what gives the film its kick, even when the plot itself becomes a bit subtle or vague.
Director Jones skilfully builds atmosphere in the limited setting. The effects are superbly unflashy, and all the more effective as a result. And there's a wonderful sense of humour in every scene, from the smiley faces Gerty uses to express his moods to witty nods to sci-fi classics (like the name Gerty).
There's also a terrific irony in earth-shattering revelations that come along later, as the script takes an askance approach to defining humanity (and inhumanity), memories and relationships.
Through all of this, Rockwell delivers a raw performance that's quietly understated and extremely potent. This is essentially a one-man show, and we really feel Sam's isolation and confusion as the facts begin to emerge. The result is touching and surprisingly emotional, all while the script and direction maintain a level of creep-out mystery as well as a countdown to the big moment of truth. In essence, this is a film about how we all yearn to know the bigger picture: why are we here and what does it all mean? And Sam's discoveries strike an eerily recognisable note.
Run time: 97 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th July 2009
Box Office USA: $4.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $7.2M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Production compaines: Lunar Industries, Liberty Films UK, Xingu Films, Limelight Fund
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 166 Rotten: 20
IMDB: 8.0 / 10
Director: Duncan Jones
Producer: Trudie Styler, Stuart Fenegan
Screenwriter: Nathan Parker
Starring: Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell, Kevin Spacey as Robot Gerty (Voice), Dominique McElligott as Tess Bell, Rosie Shaw as Little Eve, Adrienne Shaw as Nanny, Kaya Scodelario as Eve, Benedict Wong as Thompson, Matthew Berry as Overmeyers, Malcolm Stewart as Technician, Robin Chalk as Sam Bell Clone
Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...
This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...
Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...
As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...
After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...
Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...
Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...
Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...