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article imageReview: ‘The Space Between Us’ fills with love, laughter & predictability Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 3, 2017 in Entertainment
‘The Space Between Us’ depicts a sweet, young romance between the only human Martian and an Earthling whose first meeting takes them on a formulaic adventure.
Since the first flights into space, humans have been obsessed with exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no man has gone before. Putting a man on the moon (or even an asteroid) is proving far easier than travelling to another planet, but the current goal remains Mars. Numerous movies and books have imagined what it may be like on the Red Planet with many going further and envisioning what colonizing it would look like. Recent depictions of life on Mars have been relatively similar, consisting of self-contained structures that supply their own oxygen and gravity. But while there may not be any intelligent life currently inhabiting the planet, what would happen to a human life that originated there? The Space Between Us attempts to answer that question.
Nathaniel Shepherd’s (Gary Oldman) dream of cultivating Mars is finally coming true. A team of five astronauts are set to live there for four years and if their mission is successful, many more will follow. However, the group’s leader (Janet Montgomery) is unsuspectingly pregnant and will be forced to give birth when they arrive. Without knowing the effects of being born in outer space and hoping to avoid a PR nightmare, the boy’s existence is classified. Sixteen years later, Gardner (Asa Butterfield) is desperate to go to Earth… and they may finally have the technology necessary to get him there. Upon arriving, he seeks out the only person he knows on the planet that isn’t an astronaut — a 17-year-old foster kid named Tulsa (Britt Robertson). Together they embark on a journey to evade capture and trace Gardner’s lineage on Earth.
Rooted in young adult fiction, this PG love story is much like every one that preceded it — these two attractive teenagers go on these unbelievable adventures that bring them closer together until some sort of tragedy or misunderstanding threatens to tear them apart. Gardner and Tulsa are very different people and not just because they were raised on different planets. While he still possesses a childlike wonderment of the world, she’s been made cynical by the difficult life she’s endured. Yet her disillusionment and cunning are often their best assets in avoiding detection and getting Gardner from A to B; alternatively, his innocence elevates her spirits and outlook on life.
Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield star in  The Space Between Us
Britt Robertson and Asa Butterfield star in 'The Space Between Us'
VVS Films
One of the most intriguing aspects of the story is watching Gardner — essentially a Martian visiting Earth for the first time after having only gained knowledge of it from movies and books — interact with the world. The increased weight of the planet’s gravity causes him to walk oddly, while the countless bright colours and natural light force him to wear sunglasses. His first animal encounters range from curious to frightened, depending on the size of the creature. Conversely, in spite of being surrounded by adult scientists all his life, there are a couple of moments in which his naiveté seems unlikely, such as his inability to identify sarcasm. But for the most part, Butterfield is rather convincing as a young man experiencing most things for the first time.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the story or director Peter Chelsom’s other films, it’s not difficult to predict how this love story will end. There are a couple of interesting developments, but they all follow the expected narrative trajectory. In a Q&A, Butterfield was teasingly less optimistic about the characters’ futures, insisting everyone remaining would live long, lonely existences… or, slightly more hopeful, perhaps single-handedly populate the planet. In any case, the movie lives up to everything one expects from a teen romance movie with a bit of a unique flavour.
Butterfield and Marling’s friendship appears genuine, though their romantic scenes are a little awkward and lacking in passion; but at least it looks like they were having fun together. Oldman is true to his character’s arc and spends most of the film jumping between rational and concerned. Carla Gugino plays Gardner’s substitute mom on Mars and advocate on Earth, physically chasing after him when they get close enough and making emotional pleas to anyone who will listen. And BD Wong portrays the director of Nathaniel’s company and is put in a position to make all the hard choices.
In spite of following the teen love story formula to a tee, the movie does have a few unique elements that make it worthy of at least one viewing.
Director: Peter Chelsom
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson and Gary Oldman
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