Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Movie with Abe: Proxima

Directed by Alice Winocour
Released November 6, 2020 (Digital and VOD)

Technological advances have made it so that the idea of “long distance” doesn’t feel so far anymore. People across the world can connect instantly via video with crystal-clear connections and communicate whenever they’d like. There are some places, however, which still feel distant and inaccessible, and one thing that months of lockdowns and quarantining in our current existence have shown is that there is a value to human touch and in-person interaction that can’t quite be replicated by seeing someone on a screen or talking to them on a phone.

Sarah Loreau (Eva Green) is an astronaut who has been selected to participate in a yearlong mission to the International Space Station. As the only woman in the program, she faces judgmental and chauvinistic attitudes from some of her peers, including American Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon), that make the intensive training process all the more difficult. What is most on her mind, however, is her seven-year-old daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant). The connection they share grounds her and makes her wonder constantly whether she has made the right decision to spend crucial time apart from the person who means most to her.

There have been a number of films and television shows recently which have dealt with the struggle of parents to separate from their families to go into space. The Netflix series “Away” feels particularly similar, though here Sarah is a single mother and Stella’s father, who also works with space and science, has only begun to become involved in his daughter’s life in the way he should have been. Sarah possesses the knowledge and the skills to go on an incredible and important journey, but she feels that the place she needs to be is with her daughter, who can’t possibly have the same experiences without her as she would if she was there to teach her about the important things in life.

Perhaps because of the prominence of the space program in projects like “First Man” and “Interstellar,” this film doesn’t feel particularly distinctive or unique. There is clearly a passion to the relationship that exists between Sarah and her daughter which does come through, but the surrounding events aren’t quite as compelling. Green is a great performer but this isn’t the best work she’s done since the role requires mostly sober energy that doesn’t give her the chance to show off her flair for scenery chewing. This story is more effective as an ode to the unbreakable mother-daughter bond than as an overall narrative.


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