Oh, I know, I know. Reviewing this movie? During Oscar-worthy-movie season? How dare I?
But, alas, I come bearing sense. You’ll all see a gazillion reviews on each of those – shall we say – more accolade-worthy films. What you won’t read is anything on the latest chick flick to bless our screens, and I know how many of you would prefer that anyway.
Well, that, and I happened to see it extremely recently. On Valentine’s Day to be precise. Ooh, romantic. Except for the fact that my housemate and I were actually on a friend date that also involved buying helium balloons for each other and cocktails-to-go, but I digress.
The Space Between Us actually really surprised me. I watched two different trailers beforehand and went in expecting unrealistic teen bubble-gum that would warm my icy heart by making it spasm with sympathy at cringe-worthy moments. Don’t get me wrong – those moments definitely existed – but it was of a lot better quality than I thought it would be.
The movie, for anyone unaware, is about a boy who was born on Mars. Astronauts finally have found a way to get to Mars (quite relevant actually) and one of them ends up having a child while over there. Although the settlement he ends up in gains a lot of new members over time, Gardener longs for friends his own age. He connects online with a girl named Tulsa, back in Earth, but lies to her about a medical condition as it’s unknown whether he can survive away from Mars. Finally, the decision is made to test the waters and he’s sent over, which is when the storyline properly takes off.
The beginning of the film is really cinematic, with great scenes detailing the original astronauts travelling through space. The writing doesn’t lean too heavily on over-emotional drama, like so many teen-focused films can. Instead it stands in its own right, with some tragic scenes that feel much more authentic without the extra force.
As it goes on, the melodrama does admittedly come to the fore a little, but the plot retains enough vigour to keep even the least mushy people (like myself) intrigued. It’s also held in line through the humour, which strikes a brilliant cord. Asa Butterfield (who many might remember as Bruno in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) emerges as a true entertainer in the scenes where Gardener experiences Earth for the first time, in particular, the atmosphere. In several interviews he’s stated that he practised his walk a lot, in preparation for what kind of style a feather-light boy from Mars would have, and it definitely paid off. I think I barked a laugh so loud in the cinema at one point that I scared the hands of the couple in front of me out of their conjoined popcorn.
Britt Robertson also held her own opposite Butterfield. Although her character was a very predictable ‘I’m so misunderstood and different’ rebellious teen stereotype, she managed to keep the audience onside with her affection toward Gardener. I mean, if you stick alongside a weird gangly boy who says he’s from Mars without turning him in to some form of adult help, I guess you are a little different.
And, of course, if you’re a Harry Potter fan, seeing Gary Oldman with shoulder-length hair again is enough of a throwback to be a treat within itself. He also plays his role as CEO of Genesis, the company that sends the original crew to Mars, well.
Basically this movie is one of those rare young adult films that has depth as well as being easy-watching material. It has all the heart-warming feels of young love for those who enjoy that vibe, but also the fantasy elements and humour to sustain anyone else. It’s just gone out of the cinema, but I would definitely recommend it when it comes out on DVD.
-By Orla Carty