There have been plenty of movies covering mans’ quest to conquer the solar
system, from Jules Verne’s 1902 silent classic “A Trip to the Moon” to the
more recent "Ad Astra" (2019), space travel has been a film makers’ favourite
for as long as movies have been around.
Man’s conquest of space is perhaps a good description as, with a few
exceptions, the lead characters in the past have been mostly male
dominated. In, for example “Apollo 13” (1995), it’s the job of the wives to
stay at home and worry about their husbands and whilst she’s doing that
they also have to take care of the family.
Writer-director Alice Winocour turns the tables with “Proxima”, a touching
and entertaining tribute to females, in particular mothers, who have been
involved in the conquest to conquer space.
Eva Green is astronaut Sarah Loreau, separated from her husband and the
mother of a sensitive seven year-old daughter called Stella (Zelie
Boulant-Lemesle), Sarah’s lifelong ambition is to travel into space.
When she’s given the chance in the Proxima project, a joint international
one year mission to the International Space Station, Sarah finds that she
has conflicting emotions as she’s forced to choose between either seeing
her daughter or fulfilling her dreams.
When she’s finally selected for a mission, as well as dealing with the
arduous training regime and the constant thought that she’s made the wrong
decision by leaving her daughter, Stella has to deal with the openly sexist
behaviour of her fellow astronauts’. At a press briefing her colleague Mike
Shannon (Matt Dillon) announces to the world that he’s happy to have a
French woman as part of the team as they can cook good food.
As both the training and the separation from her daughter gets harder Sarah
has to make the ultimate decision between either fulfilling her lifelong
ambition or being with her daughter.
Helped in no small part by wonderful performances from Eva Green (perhaps a
career best) and Zelie Boulant-Lemesle, the onscreen chemistry between the
pair is terrific, Winocour has managed to fashion a movie that’s both
compelling and engrossing and, without doubt, a worthy tribute to all the
real female astronauts depicted over the credits at the end of the movie.