Tuesday, 21 February 2017
The Space Between Us (4 Stars)
"The Martian" showed the technical difficulties of life on Mars. "The Space Between Us" shows problems in human relationships that result from colonising another planet.
In the near future a team of seven astronauts travels to Mars to build a small colony that will be enlarged over the year to come. If you pay close attention you'll see that the space rocket leaves the Earth in January 2018. That's very optimistic! The first group of astronauts aren't intended to be permanent residents, they're just on a four-year mission to make things comfortable for those who come after them.
Technically, the mission is a success. The astronauts arrive safely on Mars and set up an artificial environment where they begin to plant vegetables and create a steady water supply. The unexpected problem is that one of the astronauts was pregnant before leaving Earth, which wasn't discovered until it was too late to abort the mission. The woman has her baby two days after arriving on Mars, but she dies in childbirth. There are complications with the environment, and none of the other astronauts were trained for matters like this. To avoid a scandal that might result in the cut of government funding, the head of the Mars program, Dr. Nathaniel Shepard, decides to keep the birth and the death secret. The boy has to stay on Mars. The other six astronauts are sworn to secrecy, and when the other colonists arrive a few years later very few of them are told where the boy came from.
16 years later the boy, Gardner Elliot, has grown up with several physical anomalies from his body adapting to life on a planet with less gravity and air pressure. I don't know whether these anomalies are scientifically feasible, but I assume the screenwriter asked for advice before writing. Gardner has thin bones and an enlarged heart. The new colonists are all adults, so he has no friends of his own age. His closest friend is a girl called Tulsa that he meets in an Internet chat room. They begin an online romance, but he doesn't tell her where he lives.
Finally he is returned to Earth. He's supposed to remain in hospital for his adaptation to life on Earth to be monitored, but he runs away to be with Tulsa. But that isn't the end of his journey. He also wants to find his father. It's a race against time while his health is rapidly deteriorating.
This is a beautifully touching love story. There's something about love between teenagers that is more moving than love between adults. There's a naive innocence and the belief that everything will work out right as long as the two love one another. There's also an urgency to young love that I remember from my own youth. Everything has to be done immediately, because tomorrow is too late.
The chasm between the opions of the critics and the public could hardly be greater. The Rotten Tomatoes rating, based on the opinions of critics, is 16%, i.e. a very bad film. The Cinemascope rating, based on the opinions of moviegoers, is A-, i.e. a very good film. Film critics have long lost track of what the public likes. They sit with stone hearts making notes of every small fault in the plot or supposed scientific inaccuracy, while the cinema audiences sit with tears in their eyes, deeply moved by the emotional intensity.
I don't know why I even bother checking what critics say. They have no idea what they're talking about. This is a film worth watching, especially if you like love stories.