Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 47 minutes, Director – Alice Wincour
Astronaut Sarah (Eva Green) is preparing to spend a year in space in the last mission before going to Mars, however this is also a year away from her eight year old daughter (Zélie Boulant)
Years of education and training have led astronaut Sarah (Eva Green) to the final frontier. At the start of Alice Wincour’s Proxima Green’s character finds herself being selected for the last mission before people are finally sent to Mars. However, while she will only be away from Earth for a year this is also a year away from her eight year old daughter, Stella (Zélie Boulant); perhaps the biggest stress and loss for her.
Stella desperately wants her Mum to stay, while she has a relationship with her father – her parents being separated – it’s clear that it’s certainly not as strong as that with her mother, with whom she lives with most of the time. She breaks into tears claiming that her dad is allergic to the cat so she must have to stay with her Green’s increasingly worried character. As the mission gets closer it’s clear that the impact of a year away from her daughter, as she already begins to spend less time with her while training and getting ready for launch, is getting to both parties as they begin to break down bit by bit. At one point a child seeing their parent going into space is likened to them being strapped into a giant bomb – something which is clearly felt more and more by both characters.
While initially the film seems to be divided as to whether mother or daughter is the main focus of the film once it establishes that we see everything through the caring, if fearful, eyes of the parent things begin to pick up. There’s still an understanding for the thoughts and feelings of both figures, yet the pressures from fellow astronauts, engineers and almost everyone else involved with the mission heaps even more upon the film’s eventual focus, adding to the weight she has to carry and trying to get the audience to connect with her more. The emotional punch might not always be there, the film truly works when the characters are together, even if talking to each other over the phone. When separated although one is obviously in the mind of the other some scenes begin to loose the emotion and slight momentum that the film has built up as they focus on other relationships, or rather Sarah’s various training exercises or medical procedures and exams to prepare her for her life in space.
It’s during such moments that the connection begins to drop and the 107 minutes run-time begins to show, and while some such moments just about click there are others that don’t quite work as well, due to not having that established connection that is so clearly there between Sarah and Stella. They both go through experiences of having to get used to new surroundings and people, yet Stella’s stick out more due to her being a child, alongside the way that the film handles such matters in different ways. Throughout the film the bond between the pair is what brings about most of the emotion and the flow. It’s what’s there for the audience to connect with, almost everything revolves around that main relationship and without it the film occasionally begins to not quite wander off, like the viewer’s attention sometimes starts to as certain scenes start to go on for too long, but slightly shift focus to other relationships than the one that creates the proper connection and impact over the course of the run-time.
It’s the mother-daughter relationship at the front of Proxima that truly forms a connection with the characters and the film, while those with other characters don’t quite take off or feel that in-depth, pushing on the run-time, there’s always that reliable look at the closely bonded family core to lift things up.