Proxima means near, thus the name of the closest star to the Sun, Proxima Centauri. Proxima is also a fitting title for a movie about a mother having a hard time being an astronaut because it keeps her away from her daughter. While the latest film from Alice Winocour is, at times, interesting, it ultimately fails to build interest in the characters or drama.
“A mother having a hard time being an astronaut because of how it keeps her away from her daughter.”
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 (Zélie Boulant) with her estranged ex-husband, Thomas (Lars Eidinger), a planetary scientist studying Mars and Venus. The trip is no small commitment as Sarah will 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 an emotional one between mom and daughter, and as Sarah goes through the grueling training, she can barely handle the added emotional burden. It doesn’t help that her mission commander (Matt Dillon) doesn’t think she has the right stuff.
I won’t spoil the ending, but the central drama of Proxima comes down to whether or not Sarah will go to space, leaving her daughter behind, or whether she will abandon being an astronaut for Stella. If she doesn’t go, that’s a pretty bad commentary on the astronaut selection process and 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.
"…shows real attention to detail and gives us a fascinating glimpse inside the astronaut training program. "