Proxima: Film Review

Proxima

I love space movies, but the vast majority of them focus on men and the mission itself, rather than the loved ones they’ve had to leave behind. Proxima, a moving mother-daughter study, rights this wrong and shows the emotional toll balancing an all-consuming career and motherhood can have.

Eva Green plays Sarah, a French astronaut who has been dreaming of going to space since she was a child. She is thrilled to learn that she is a last-minute addition to the Proxima mission to Mars. While she is excited about the opportunity to finally put her lifetime of training into practice, Sarah struggles with the thought of leaving her daughter Stella (Zelie Boulant-Lemesle) for a year, as she is her primary caregiver following her split from Stella’s dad Thomas (Lars Eidenger). Not only that, but American captain Mike (Matt Dillon) is openly hostile towards her and constantly undermines her, making it obvious that he would prefer a man on his team.

I love the idea of a space movie that doesn’t go into space and that director Alice Winocour went with a space angle to tell this mother-daughter story. I’m sure many women who work full-time and are primarily responsible for their children would see a lot of themselves in Sarah, who struggles to balance her dreams with her love for her daughter. It also doesn’t help that the field is dominated by men who have little sympathy for Sarah’s dilemma because they have wives at home taking care of their kids while they’re training. Sarah needs to put 110% into preparations but she is constantly distracted by looking out for her daughter and the emotional toll this takes is evident on Green’s face.

I’ve always thought Green was a terrific actress but she still manages to surprise and impress me. What she is able to convey without speaking is just incredible and I found her performance incredibly moving, particularly in the last 20-30 minutes when it all gets too much nearer her launch date. Boulant-Lemesle doesn’t let the side down either. Dillon plays the same douchey character he’s played before, and Sandra Huller brings great understanding and warmth as the compassionate family liaison Wendy.

Although the mother-daughter relationship is the main focus and the big emotional pull of the film, I found it fascinating watching Sarah’s training for space and the various drills they have to undergo, and I also loved how much she stood up for herself and demanded to be treated equally in the face of Mike’s sexism. Watching her earn his respect was rewarding.

I connected to the story and Sarah way more than I was expecting to and Green is simply sensational here so Proxima gets a big thumbs up from me.

Proxima is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital from today

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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