In the future, Earth’s energy crisis will be resolved by mining Helium 3 from the far side of the moon. Apparently, this is a one-man job. Astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell) is nearing the end of his three-year contract with Lunar Industries, where he is the sole human operating the moon base responsible for harvesting and shipping the precious energy.
Needless to say, it’s a lonely existence. His only companion is a robot named GERTY, who displays an endless array of emoticons on his video screen and has the soothing voice of Kevin Spacey. It’s an obvious and intentional reference to HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and director Jones (son of David Bowie, believe it or not) has a lot of fun playing with our preconceived notions.
To say anything more about the plot would reveal too much; suffice to say that despite some impressive effects on a limited budget, we are firmly in existential Solaris-type territory here. It’s largely a one-man show for the continuously astounding Rockwell, who grapples with all kinds of inner and outer turmoil, whilst simultaneously retaining a boundless energy and infectious sense of humor that gets even the placid GERTY to crack a smile.