A Space in Time
“I didn’t want to be like that. I want to play football with my friends.” No child should be stripped of their right to such routine recreation, but Theo and his brother Oskar are both living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Much more prevalent in boys but still astoundingly rare, the genetic condition weakens the muscles. Those inflicted become increasingly incapacitated, relying on wheelchairs and, later, ventilators. As of yet there is no cure, but the inhabitants of this informative and compassionate documentary remain hopeful. In fact, this is not so much a film about disability as it is about human strength, optimism and love.
Co-directed by Riccardo Servini and the boy’s father, Nick Taussig, A Space in Time is an incredibly intimate, open and honest depiction of a disease seldom spoken of, let alone explored on screen. Viewers are offered a mixture of poetic cinematography intertwined with the immediacy of a voyeuristic hand-held camera. The audience is drawn into a world they probably know little about, and soon find themselves invested in this family and the journey they have been forced to embark upon.
Scenes of Nick’s wife Klara underwater permit a moment to pause and reflect, which is needed when so much of the material is hard to digest emotionally. In a way, the more stylistic elements juxtaposed with the raw reality emphasise just how unfathomable and complex such a disease is.
One of the most notable aspects of the documentary is that one quickly sees beyond the disability and instead gets to know Theo and Oskar. They know nothing different and often simply live in the moment, enjoying typical boyhood play and interactions. They are brimming with the enthusiastic optimism typical of children, but one can’t help but feel pained at knowing what lies ahead for them and their family.
Refreshingly, Nick and Klara refuse to sugar-coat anything. In fact, the father shares several candid conversations with his sons, who alternate between naïve denial and acceptance. Along the way the audience meets other sufferers of Duchenne, gaining the perspective of Harrison, who is older than the brothers and now in a wheelchair. His doting dad confronts the challenge with admirable aplomb, extracting light from such darkness and coming over as incredibly inspirational.
One learns that real community does exist: the Taussig family home was in fact constructed and modified for the boys on the goodwill of a building firm. The film also depicts the strength of the human spirit in how Nick and Klara manage to move forward, even when life does not always feel worth living.
It’s clear just how cruel the world can be, but this will truly make viewers appreciate what they have. A challenging and sobering watch, A Space in Time is as heartfelt as it is heartbreaking.
A Space in Time is released in select cinemas on 17th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for A Space in Time here: