Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) just wants to be on Earth. Gardner is a 16-year-old boy who lives on Mars. His mother, Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery), an astronaut on a four-year trip to Mars, finds out she’s pregnant shortly after they arrive. When she dies during childbirth, Gardner is left in the care of a team of scientists. We never learn what became of the other astronauts on the trip who knew the truth about how Sarah died, a truth NASA kept from the public citing a malfunction instead. After we learn of her passing, the movie cuts to Gardner at 16 who is a bit mischievous and desperate to be around someone who is his own age.
As a young boy who was raised without his mother, he believes that going to Earth is the only way he can connect to her. He becomes friends with Tulsa (Britt Robertson), a girl he met online, and tells her that he lives in a New York City penthouse and he can’t leave because he is sick. In fact, when he makes it to Earth seven months after he promised Tulsa he was coming to visit her, he headed straight for her high school. After some back and forth about why he “ghosted” her, the two teens head off on a quest for adventure, eager to ditch Kendra (Carla Gugino) the closest mother figure he had growing up, and Nathaniel Shepard (Gary Oldman), who was the person behind his mother’s four-year trip to Mars.
Gardner, despite what he may endure, is on a mission to find his father, convinced that he is the last piece that he has of his mother and the key to finally discovering where he belongs in the world. Often, when we want something so bad, we tend to romanticize it. From the outside looking in, the thing we want seems perfect, the answer to all that ails us. Gardner does this very thing with Earth. After all, he is a teenage boy. As he and Tulsa continue in their quest, they find themselves falling in love with each other and the way it feels to be around someone who sees you in a way no one else can. Still, even as Gardner tells her the truth about his birthplace, she doesn’t believe him; she just believes that he believes it and that is enough for her. When Gardner starts to get sick because he is in an atmosphere he is not used to, Tulsa thinks he may just be telling the truth.
With twists and turns, the age-old story of young love and self-discovery is reimagined and given the revival it deserves. Robertson gives great life and care to Tulsa in the only way someone with a magnitude of talent can. Butterfield’s Gardner is charming and honest in a way that makes him instantly loveable. Gugino and Oldman give stellar performances of their own bringing weight and complexity to complicated characters. The Space Between Us is a must-see movie and it is out on Blu-Ray and DVD today.
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The Space Between Us: A Twist on Love: photos courtesy of MPRM Communications