The Space Between Us (2017) – Film Review

Little gems like this remind me why I love the cinematic arts; I knew I’d thoroughly-enjoy this film, but it threw me for a loop, anyway.

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”

~ Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery)

These recent, low Metascore ratings are…surprising. Even though it’s an aggregate number from all different sites and publications, it’s still an average number. I’ve been anticipating The Space Between Us since last fall, after its first delay pushed it back to Christmastime. Then, it was delayed—again—until the beginning of February. I was starting to lose faith in this movie, and so I was happy to find that it delivered on all that it promised.

I saw bits of myself in each of the leads, Gardner and Tulsa—played by Asa Butterfield and Britt Roberston, respectively. Gardner’s incessant curiosity (while almost getting him killed) is relatable; he wants to know everything he can about his true home, while feeling as a prisoner on the one he was given at birth. Tulsa is a renegade teen—hurt over and over by those that she tried to get close to—and so, is untrustworthy of Gardner when he starts spinning tales of Mars and his own upbringing, thinking him just another boy who’s trying to usurp her feelings. Her hesitation is understandable, just as the film’s subtexts concerning sacrifice, love, loss, and new beginnings, are humbling lessons. Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino shine, as well. Oldman always delivers, and I saw a bit of myself in his character, too. He’s the dreamer, eyes always tilted skyward. I haven’t, honestly, seen Gugino in much, though, since M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines TV series lost its traction and (in my opinion) went belly-up. She did an excellent jobin this, however, and drove the surrogate mother part home.

The cinematography is beautiful, too. Once the story arrives at Earth, a lot of the sweeping vistas and colorful backdrops that we see as Gardner learns about his planet are enchanted with an almost-otherworldly aura. I found myself getting choked up at the scenery more than once. It’s a compelling story that Peter Chelsom and his crew have woven here, and the visuals lend to its spectacle.

It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again in future viewings: this movie made me cry. It was during a scene and due to a twist that I should’ve seen coming a mile-off. Everything that leads up to that, however, is solid science and a roving adventure down the more scenic roads of the American West. The revelations that are had by the characters as the climax approaches are something to behold, as we are, indeed, traveling at the same speed as each of them through everything that happens.

However refreshing the final product is, the premise made me wince. Gardner’s curiosity—as I said earlier—almost gets him killed, on multiple occasions throughout. I suppose it’s like any extraterrestrial coming to Earth for the first time; anything that appeals to their inner wonderment would overwhelm their self-preservation instinct. Without this fact, though, we would not have a premise for the film…but that doesn’t mean it has to make sense. He lets his gut take over, rather than listening to those that are only looking out for his better interests, and it almost destroys him. With that, the film leaves us in a sort of limbo, able to connect the dots as to what happens next for the characters that remain. Neat resolutions aren’t always necessary. The contrary can make for a much more wholesome experience, when the end-credits begin to roll.

Little gems like this remind me why I love the cinematic arts; I knew I’d thoroughly-enjoy this film, but it threw me for a loop, anyway. That, in no small part, is thanks to the director, his writers, cinematographer, DP, and everyone else that made my experience what it was. And so, having finally arrived in theatres, Peter Chelsom’s The Space Between Us gets a much-deserved final ‘Risk Assessment of ****/*. I can’t speak for others, but I know my favorite thing about Earth: seeing it through someone else’s eyes every time I sit down to watch a movie.

Next review: John Wick, Chapter 2

Written by Evan Kern

Just a twenty-something filmie trudging through adulthood. Taking it day by day, movie by movie. Words are life...

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