Space Between Us
This is a tender little love story with an unusual context.
Gardner (Asa Butterfield) is a 16-year-old kid who has truly led
a sheltered life. His Mom
was an astronaut on a Mars space mission who was in early pregnancy when
her spaceship left Earth, so Gardner was gestated in space, and born on
Mars. Then suddenly his Mom
dies, and he's left to be raised by other astronauts.
The head of the project, Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) makes
the difficult decision of not publicizing the baby's birth, thinking
that the revelation might jeapordize the funding for the project.
So Gardner grows up as the orphan in the Mars colony, where we
meet him when he's 16. He's
tall, gangly, and, not surprisingly, tech-savvy.
He helped build the robot that doubles as his valet and personal
But Gardner yearns for Earth, where he longs to find his father.
Gardner has located some old photographs which show his Mom
cavorting on the beach with a young man, and Gardner tucks that photo
away as the talisman that's going to cure all his identity issues.
Meanwhile, Gardner has been corresponding with an earthling girl,
Tulsa (Britt Robertson), who's been raised in a series of foster homes,
and is now trying to finish school, but she's got a strong rebellious
streak, and a few identity issues of her own.
Gardner finally tells her, in their hasty videoconference, that
he's on his way to see her, but of course he doesn't bother telling her
that it will take months for him to arrive.
By the time he finally does, after managing to escape his
“handlers” from NASA, it's been so long since he's contacted her
that she slaps him. Well,
that's a promising beginning.
Yes, Gardner is indeed a very different person from anybody else
she's met. At first, she
doesn't believe his story about being from Mars, alleging that she's
tired of everybody lying to her all the time.
He doesn't really understand the source of her anger, but he's
got other problems: the NASA
people are chasing him, supposedly for his own good, because his system
really can't handle the Earth's gravity.
OK, not only is the plot implausible, so is the pseudo-science of
the pressure on his internal organs and enlarged heart.
But if you can buy into all that, and also accept the casting
decision of a 26-year-old as a high schooler, then the way is clear for
you to be hopeful along with this poignant couple just searching for a
little happiness together.
There are some missed opportunities with “discovery humor”:
Gardner is completely startled by seeing a man riding a horse,
and stands in the pouring rain reveling in the sensation.
But there could have been plenty of other moments for him to
learn and embrace. Instead,
what we get is their escaping into a Native American reservation where
they camp underneath the stars and find romance.
Which was also on his “bucket list,” but the urgency here is
that he may not have much more time to experience anything, because he's
becoming increasingly ill.
Yes, there are some viewer deceptions, and some plot twists, but
really, we're asked to root for this young couple and their bumpy
romance, against all odds. It's
cute, but not exactly, er, rocket science.