Forty years after David Bowie addressed the soul-numbing loneliness of rocket travel in the song “Space Oddity,” his son Duncan Jones explored a similar quadrant with visual poetry in his directing debut. Sam Rockwell plays Sam, the loneliest human in the solar system, the lone human on a helium-mining facility on the dark side of the moon. (Well, he does have a HAL-like robot companion named GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey – cool comfort, that.)
Just as his three-year stint is wrapping up, Sam, who left a wife and an unborn daughter behind on Earth, discovers that he may not be as alone as he believed himself to be. Or: he may be losing his grip on reality and may not even be who he thinks he is.
Working with what seems like an absurdly modest budget ($5 million), Jones creates a lunar landscape of magnificent desolation, a sensation matched by Rockwell’s haunting performance. Like his dad’s Major Tom, Jones seems to suggest that maybe humanity isn’t really cut out for space travel, and that long-distance relationships (like the one between the astronaut and his estranged home planet) always fall apart in the long run.