The Space Between Us
Director Peter Chelsom’s The Space Between Us is a young-adult film that, for once, is not based on a wildly successful teen novel. Conjured from an entirely original screenplay by Allan Loeb, Stewart Schill and Richard B Lewis, the movie tells the story of Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield), a boy born and raised on Mars for the entirety of his life. What with his existence being kept secret from the rest of humanity, Gardner is largely unsocialised. Although he’s only had direct interaction with NASA scientists, he manages to strike up an online friendship with Tulsa (Britt Robertson). Gardner is given the chance to go to Earth, and eventually joins Tulsa on a journey to experience the world for the first time.
As far as young-adult storylines go, this unique angle works for the first half of the film and Chelsom manages to develop a degree of charm and wonder. Gary Oldman plays Nathaniel Shepherd, an apparent allusion to real-life space aficionado Elon Musk. As always, Oldman is brilliant and he’s supported by the talented Carla Gugino as Kendra, a NASA scientist who acts as a surrogate mother to Gardner. Robertson and Butterfield perform their roles well, and with considerable restrain given the more saccharine elements of the plot. The dynamics between veterans Gugino and Oldman and the younger Butterfield and Robertson are also handled well, and there is good chemistry between the actors.
However, The Space Between Us eventually succumbs to ridiculous clichés and deus ex machina that utterly destroy the suspension of disbelief; it soon becomes just another highly predictable product of the genre. Serious narrative turns are decimated with laughably cringeworthy dialogue. Evidently, Butterfield and Robertson are highly capable actors, however, their character development is stunted as it is borrowed extensively from other coming-of-age films. This leads to Tulsa devolving into a cynical and insecure girl who needs to be loved, and Gardner’s social awkwardness and petulance are clearly plot-activated for convenience.
This lack of subtlety makes the third act unintentionally hilarious. Exposition becomes clunky and over-sentimental, dampening the emotional value of the movie. For the teenage audience this might be passable, however gratuitously the film ticks every outdated trope criteria. This is a shame, given the obvious talents of the cast and the unique premise. The Space Between Us begins with enormous charm, which ultimately fizzles out.
The Space Between Us is released nationwide on 10th February 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Space Between Us here: