Sam Rockwell is one of those underrated actors who works all the time in indie films but rarely seems to land anything larger than a supporting role in studio productions (most recently in Frost/Nixon).
His resume is dotted with little-seen gems that might have made him a star if they'd had any exposure to a mass audience. Off the top of my head, I can come up with Box of Moonlight, Jerry and Tom, Lawn Dogs, Safe Men and last year's Choke.
Add Moon to that list -- yet another small film I fear will only find an audience in the DVD/cable aftermarket. Moon is an acting tour de force in which Rockwell's performance -- or, more accurately, performances -- lift what could have been an intellectual exercise into an emotionally compelling movie.
Rockwell plays Sam Bell, the lone employee on a mining station on the moon in the near future, where an element called Helium-3 -- the solution to the energy crisis -- is being extracted. He's close to the end of his three-year contract and aching to get back to Earth to his wife and toddler daughter.
But his moon vehicle crashes while checking on one of the automated mining machines, which has a problem out on the surface. When he comes to, he's back at his base, none the worse for wear -- perhaps a little weak -- with no memory of how he got there.
The ship's computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey) tries to talk him out of the compulsion he feels to go back out to the surface to inspect the problematic machine. There he finds the crashed rover, with an injured astronaut inside. When he gets the victim back to base, he discovers another Sam Bell.
Which one is the real Sam -- and which is the clone? They share looks, they share memories of the wife and child -- how can either of them trust the other, or themselves?
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