A romantic sci-fi film directed by Peter Chelsom (Serendipity, Shall We Dance?), The Space Between Us stars English actors Gary Oldman and Asa Butterfield. Oldman’s Nathaniel Shepherd is the CEO of a space company who launched the first ever mission to colonise Mars while Butterfield’s Gardner Elliot is the first (and only) human being to have been born on the planet. His mother, the lead astronaut of that mission, perished during childbirth, and Gardner has been raised by astronauts for the past 16 years.
So just whom is the space between? It turns out that Gardner is in love with a teenage girl he met on an Internet chatroom. As you can imagine, there’s a bit of a problem as they reside on different planets. In addition, she doesn’t actually know that he lives on Mars. But love, in all its raging, passionate glory, conquers all—and Gardner proves just that by overcoming several obstacles to make his way back to Earth. Besides, he also wants to find out who his biological father is.
But there’s more to this film with a $30 million budget than star-crossed lovers and family tree mysteries. For a start, the wide-eyed Butterfield takes to his role as a mopey, lovelorn brainiac pretty well. The 20-year-old has come a long way since appearing in Hugo and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and we know that he will only have more excellent performances to show for as he advances in his career. If you are a fan of his, you are in for a treat: he’s got at least four movies hitting the silver screen soon, two of which are Journey’s End and Departures.
Then there’s the immensely talented Oldman, who probably needs no introduction and whose understated acting is one of the film’s highlights. In Gardner’s interests, Nathaniel fights to prevent him from making his way to Earth, so when Gardner goes against his wishes, he is worried and disconcerted, and Oldman subtly and believably brings out the distraught father character.
The film is more love and sentimentality than the deeper Gravity or The Martian, but still, it’s able to satisfy one’s thirst for a space movie—even if only very briefly. Its opening scene was filmed at Spaceport America in New Mexico, and surely even that tiny detail brings some joy to the truest space movie enthusiasts.
If you’ve spotted posters of the movie floating around on the Internet, you might have noticed that the tagline for the film is: “What’s your favourite thing about Earth?” This line becomes particularly touching when we see Butterfield’s character hustling to learn what’s most amazing about this planet he never got the privilege of being well acquainted with. It involves going up to strangers and trying to get them to talk, and while he never really gets an answer (because, hey, we humans are a jaded bunch), it’s evident he’s happy to even be interacting with other Earthlings.
The film has a pretty sweet ending, and no, it’s got nothing to do with the young lovers. An easy, calming watch, The Space Between Us is just the sort of show to put on before you hit the sack.