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The Space Between Us – Movie Review

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The Space Between Us – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

Sometimes, a film with an absurd plot can almost be overcome by the charm and sweetness of its lead performers. The Space Between Us introduces a plot device early on that would likely never happen in the real world. NASA would certainly never allow an astronaut into space without heavy check-ups to see if they are fit for duty. The idea of an astronaut going on a mission to Mars and then discovering they are pregnant is entirely unbelievable. The Space Between Us rides that line of silliness, but there are frequent scenes of the young leads that have an instant charm. Not quite enough to remove these flaws, but it is easy to enjoy their presence.

There is almost a cornball charm to The Space Between Us, not unlike the sort of productions one would see from Disney in the 1970s. Remove a couple of the more adult references and one can imagine this being produced by the studio during their initial post-Walt period. The best scenes involve Asa Butterfield’s Mars-born teenager and his pen pal, played by Britt Robertson, meeting and going on their journey. At first glance, it’s easy to be reminded of Robertson’s previous science-fiction turn in Tomorrowland where she similarly travels across the country. However, her character Tulsa is very far removed from Casey Newton. This is a more pessimistic character who has been hurt her entire life and Robertson portrays that aspect rather brilliantly.

One can see many of the plot points coming a mile away, including Tulsa and Gardner falling in love. Yet the two actors exhibit fantastic chemistry and despite the film surrounding them, there is a genuineness to their growing relationship. Tulsa being an aspiring musician and singer also gives Robertson the opportunity to sing on-screen for the first time. Even when the script is being overly cutesy and comical and in contrast to Gardner’s personality in the first act, one can understand the curiosity coming from him wandering the streets of Earth for the first time and getting used to the different gravity.

The sequences with Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino chasing after the young couple are not quite as successful. Oldman frequently makes wrong-headed decisions and there are a number of points where he could have solved the central conflict much quicker. We get constant speeches from him that don’t do enough to explore his character. Peter Chelsom’s direction can also be a little heavy-headed at times with references to Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire being too on-the-nose and obvious in comparing their themes and ideas. The Space Between Us even cuts to scenes from that film just to further drive the point across.

The Space Between Us is a light fluffy young adult romance that probably wouldn’t work quite as well without Butterfield and Robertson’s beautiful chemistry. The plot points are ridiculous and the script takes a lot of suspension of disbelief and one wishes there was a bigger emphasis on the importance of space travel. Britt Robertson’s presence also creates comparisons to Tomorrowland, which opted for more optimism and adventure. However, this is primarily a romance and those scenes are why this is worth recommending for at least an airplane ride or Netflix viewing. In the end, it’s a safe teenage version of John Carpenter’s Starman.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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