Safe Spaces: Film Review

Safe Spaces

I haven’t seen Justin Long in anything in quite some time so I’m glad to see him back on my screen in Safe Spaces, also known as After Class in other countries. 

He plays Josh Cohn, a writing professor who is dealing with the fallout of encouraging a female student to reveal details about an intimate sexual encounter in class, something which was triggering for another student. The film takes place over the course of a week and depicts Josh defending his reputation amid spiralling allegations all while reconnecting with his family as his grandma Agatha (the late Lynn Cohen) is in hospital.

Safe Spaces may be messy and uneven but it is an enjoyable family and workplace drama that feels very topical and relevant. It has a lot of interesting things to say about the sensitive culture we live in nowadays, such as how easy it is to say something wrong, and how hard it is to come back from being “cancelled”. Josh is a very flawed and sometimes frustrating character and doesn’t help himself at times. He says the wrong thing, he creates his own problems and then points the blame at others, and raises his voice to defend himself when he should just listen. But, thankfully, he gets a very satisfying arc. 

This is a fantastic showcase for Long, who does an excellent job leading this cast, which is filled with actors who all bring their A-game and Daniel Schechter‘s impressive screenplay to life. I particularly enjoyed Kate Berlant as his sister Jackie, she was written particularly well, and Cohen as Agatha, who still brought so much life to her scenes despite her character being on her death bed. Fran Drescher as the matriarch Diane and Richard Schiff as their dad and her ex-husband were also strong additions, with Schiff getting a particularly moving moment towards the end. 

Safe Spaces isn’t perfect but it’s enjoyable, engaging, and gave me a lot to think about today’s culture.

Available for digital download from Monday 7th September

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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