I’m thrilled to be covering the Glasgow Film Festival again this year. The films are always surprisingly top-notch in terms of quality and enjoyment. You can always expect something relatively decent from their opening gala which this year, is Ann Winnocour’s Proxima. This is one I went in with no expectations whatsoever, what I feel is the best way to go about a film festival. I knew it was space centric just from the title and promotional stills, but that’s about it.
Honestly, the film gripped me. The film follows Astronaut in training, Sarah, who is played by Eva Green, she is working through the steps of preparation to get ready for her first trip to space. The film isn’t necessarily about that, it more focuses on the relationships she has her life outside of her job and the strain it puts on her family unit when she has to go away for a year.
This is already a touchy subject for the daughter who is desperate for what she perceives to be an average family anyway. We see her continually longing for her parents to be back together. She falls further and further when her mother leaves. Its such an exciting and heart-breaking thing to see and the child actress, Zelie Boulant, who plays her is exceptional for her age. Speaking of performances, I was blown away by the lead performance from Eva Green. This is very much her film, and she is exceptional.
There is also more going on with Sarah who faces sexism in the workplace, belittled continuously by a loudmouth American astronaut called Mike Shannon, played by Matt Dillon. This is the most American American to ever American in a movie, and for that, I found his performance amazing. Sarah faces unrealistic expectations from her workplace, something not put on her male counterparts. The film does not do a deep dive on this and in some ways tries to retract its initial thoughts on this, changing Dillon to be someone a bit more sympathetic. Still, it does bring them to light, and I would have loved to have seen a little more.
On the downside, the film doesn’t manage to stick the landing for me. The ‘resolution’ of the relationships feels under-baked and half-hearted as it sort of scrambles to find a place to end the movie fittingly. It doesn’t find it and leaves on a bit of a dull note, leaving what I would argue is too much for the imagination to guess what happens next with the characters. It seems a bit clichéd to do a “one year later”, but I really would make the case that the film needs it.
Proxima seems like an odd choice for a gala film as it lacks a spectacle that you would usually see in something that is supposed to launch a festival. Hats off to the Glasgow Film Festival team for championing something a little smaller to open their festival. I can’t imagine it’s something that an awful lot of people will rush out to see, so the exposure is good for it.
That being said, though, the film is a great watch—a very well made movie by Alice Winnocour. Which overall is good; it isn’t a significant masterpiece. Still, the touching relationship at the centre and the outstanding performances are impressive enough to keep you engaged with the film.
Proxima is in UK cinemas April 17th. The Glasgow Film Festival is on RIGHT NOW