Spaceman | Review by: Benjamin Garrett


Melancholic and sentimental to a fault, Spaceman is an etherial space odyssey that’s running on fumes by the time it reaches its destination. Although it doesn’t always achieve the profound impact it’s aiming for, this moody science fiction resonates with enough meaning to get by. 

Now, when I call this science fiction, know that those elements only serve as a vessel to tell a very human story. Yes, Sandler’s character Jakub is on a year long mission across space, but at its core, this film is about a strained love between him and his earthbound wife. It touches on regret, broken promises, and how we don’t always have easy answers to the decisions we make. To be honest, I wish the space mission played a lesser part in this story, so we could deeper explore these themes. 

The meat of the narrative involves a look back at Jakub’s life on earth, and how his pregnant wife (Carey Mulligan) is coping without him. Through brief memories, we are given bits and pieces of his childhood and marriage, slowly filling in his backstory and developing his character. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t dig deep enough into his past, which in turn doesn’t allow the previously mentioned themes to really land as they should. As a whole, the movie feels reminiscent of other science fiction films with strong emotional cores. Think Interstellar and Ad Astra, but nowhere near as powerful as either. 

I’ve always been a champion for Sandler’s dramatic abilities, getting excited whenever he undertakes more serious roles. I sadly wasn’t too impressed by his turn here, finding it somewhat wooden at times. There were moments that felt like he was literally reading from a script, which left me frustrated knowing Sandler is capable of much better. It’s a performance that thankfully gets better as the film progresses, but it doesn’t reach the heights of what we’ve seen from him before. Paul Dano voices a giant arachnid alien, who plays psychotherapist to Sandler’s character (yeah, this is a strange movie). His soothing tone and curious demeanour are so calming, as he learns about the human condition from Sandler. 

From a production standpoint, this movie does a lot right, and a few things that don’t quite work. The retro futuristic aesthetic throughout the space station is beautiful, reminiscent of much of the sci-fi we saw in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The contrast between the neutral tones inside the vessel and the purples and blues of surrounding space is stunning. The visual effects are also quite impressive, save for a few wonky looking green screen moments. The fisheye lensing used for the flashback sequences is effective in conveying the concept of distinct memories, but it’s kind of ugly when compared to how nice the rest of the film looks. Max Richter’s gorgeous score is the real MVP of Spaceman, elevating every scene and infusing the film with added layers of emotional richness. It’s one that’ll surely fly under the radar come awards season, but it’s bound to be one of my favourite scores of 2024. 

Spaceman is an ambition character study disguised as science fiction. It’s atmospherically and thematically effective, even though it falls short of its potential, and feels like it’s borrowing from similar, better films. 


Review by: Benjamin Garrett 

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