Adventure Drama

'The Space Between Us' Film Review: Interplanetary love story is 'The Fault in Our Stars' meets 'The Martian'

February 2, 2017Ben Mk



   
Long distance relationships can be a challenge — but what happens when the distance separating two kindred spirits is better expressed in light years, instead of in miles or kilometers? That's the founding premise behind The Space Between Us, a film that tells the story about a girl from Earth and a boy from Mars, and the lengths — both physical and emotional — they'll go to to be together.

Directed by Peter Chelsom, The Space Between Us follows loosely in the zero-G footsteps of Ridley Scott's The Martian, in that the film gravitates as much towards science fact as it does science fiction, positing a what-if scenario in which a young man — 16-year-old Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) — finds himself essentially marooned on Mars. And like Matt Damon's intrepid astronaut, Gardner hopes to one day leave the red planet and make his way to Earth. Only for him, the reasons are less about survival than they are about the basic human need for love.

Born on the fourth rock from the Sun to an astronaut mother named Sarah (Janet Montgomery), who was also the leader of the Magellan-61 space mission to colonize Mars, Gardner has spent his entire life there, doomed to a "classified" — albeit not-so-harsh — existence after his mother died in childbirth. As a result, Gardner ended up being "raised by scientists" — one of them being Kendra (Carla Gugino), who's the closest thing to family he's ever known — and left wondering about the identity of his biological father, a man whom he's never met.

When Gardner begins secretly video-chatting with a spunky and street-smart Earth girl named Tulsa (Britt Robertson), however, that's when his desire to leave Mars begins to grow, fueled by romantic feelings he had heretofore only seen in old movies. But even though Gardner eventually convinces NASA to let him make the seven-month-long shuttle trek to meet Tulsa in-person, his happiness proves short-lived, as it soon becomes apparent that his all-too-Martian heart can't withstand the pressure placed on it by the Earth's stronger gravitational pull.

Scripted by Allan Loeb, what follows imbues the scientific drama of The Martian with the teenage love story of The Fault in Our Stars, as Gardner and Tulsa embark on a cross-country road trip in search of his long-lost father, falling madly for each other along the way. But while the result has plenty of opportunity to devolve into just another eye-rolling YA romance, it mercifully never does, thanks to the chemistry between Butterfield and Robertson, who shoulder the story's emotional weight with their excellent-beyond-their-years performances.

Rounding out the cast are Gary Oldman as Nathaniel Shepherd, the reclusive entrepreneur who happens to be the brains behind the Magellan-61 mission, and BD Wong as the mission's director. Both actors elevate the film by bringing a certain degree of respectability to it, but still, their performances are ultimately window dressing to that of their more junior co-stars. After all, The Space Between Us, as charming as it is, may not be the perfect movie — but it's a movie that's perfectly geared for all the star-crossed, young lovers out there.


The Space Between Us releases February 3rd, 2017 from VVS Films. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for brief sensuality and language. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 1 Min.








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