Approximately speaking, Proxima means near — thus the name of the closest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri. It is also a fitting title for a movie about a mother having a hard time being an astronaut because of how it keeps her away from her daughter. While the latest movie from Alice Winocour is at times interesting, it ultimately fails to build interest in the characters or interesting drama.
Eva Green plays Sarah, an astronaut for the European Space Agency (ESA) who finally gets her shot to go to space. The only problem is that she’s a single mom, and she’ll have to leave her daughter Stella with her estranged ex-husband, a planetary scientist studying Mars and Venus. The trip is no small commitment — she’ll have to train for months at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, then go into quarantine, and finally up to the International Space Station. This physical distance causes emotional distance between mom and daughter, and as Sarah goes through the grueling physical training, she can barely handle the added emotional burden. It doesn’t help that her mission commander, played by Matt Dillon, doesn’t think she has the right stuff.
“A mother having a hard time being an astronaut because of how it keeps her away from her daughter.“
I won’t spoil the ending, but the central drama here comes down to whether or not Sarah will go to space and leave her daughter behind, or whether she will abandon being an astronaut for her daughter. If she doesn’t go to space that’s a pretty bad commentary on the astronaut selection process, and on women as astronauts, and if she does, then that’s a pretty boring movie. The very concept of the movie was fraught from the outset. The film addresses the problem that these are the kinds of questions only asked of moms who are astronauts, not fathers, and yet at the same time they’ve based a whole movie on it.