TIFF19 – ‘Proxima’ Is a Love Letter to the Remarkable Women Who Reach for the Stars

Eva Green reminds us once again why she is one the best actresses working today in 2019’s most grounded astronaut feature, Proxima. In Alice Winocour’s latest film she doesn’t have our astronaut leave the ground, but that doesn’t mean we don’t go on a meaningful journey with her.

This meticulously researched story follows Sarah (Eva Green), a hardworking French astronaut who finally has her chance to go on a year-long trip to outer space. Sarah is fiercely focused on her mission, which is to do the thing she has always longed to do. Her ambitions – as admirable as they are – make her relationship with her 8-year-old daughter very difficult. If you are in any way familiar with Winocour’s previous works, then you will see this film fits a particular pattern.

Winocour loves to explore the complexity and beauty of womanhood. Here she is singularly focused on shining a spotlight on the women who do what very few humans ever do: go to space. The journey is strenuous one; both emotionally straining and physically demanding. Things become especially difficult when these women are mothers, as our society has demanded that women be the primary caretakers of our children. So, the question becomes: will Sarah sacrifice her dream to care for her daughter?

Sarah is an amalgamation of experiences and emotions that Winocour derives from her research of these incredible women. The film is steered by Winocour’s respect and admiration of these very real superheroines who live amongst us; the ones who do so much to balance their dreams and the well-being of their children. And, Winocour could not ask for a better partner in pursuing this vision than Green. 

Eva Green is famous for her work in genre film/television and her striking features, but in Proxima, she sheds that image to prove once again that she is one of the greats. Piggybacking off her last feature to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, Lisa Langseth’s Euphoria, Green is tasked with playing a real person in the midst of a very personal crisis. She conveys so much in a single look, and the moments of silence are filled with her character’s inner thoughts and emotions. Green is also paired with a wonderful young actress, Zélie Boulant, who is seemingly tailor made to play Green’s daughter.

Proxima may not have the budget or scope of James Gray’s Ad Astra or Noah Hawley’s Lucy in the Sky, but what Proxima is tapping into is the small wonders astronauts leave behind, and the relationships that are impacted by such great human feats. What the film lacks in spectacle it makes up for it’s tactical and realistic approach to conveying the story. Proxima is personal, intimate, and a celebration of the courage one must have to pursue greatness.

Proxima had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival as one of the Platform selections. Pathe International is backing the film and just secured UK distribution with Picturehouse Entertainment.

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