Its sidereal rotation period around twenty four hours and forty minutes, that is about the only common ground between Mars and Earth, orbiting farther from the Sun and thus considerably colder, its atmosphere thin with little gravity to hold it, primarily composed of carbon dioxide and with no significant magnetic field to deflect cosmic rays, to say nothing of the long term problems facing a colony such as growing sufficient food, the latter the problem which Alex McAllister has chosen to tackle as part of his Mission Mars application.
A private enterprise which claims to be decades ahead of NASA, Space X or Virgin Galactic in their plans, raised on his parents’ flower farm and the surrounding forests Alex is using that experience to attempt to germinate seeds in simulated Martian conditions but while his mother Jane is thrilled he has found something which gives him purpose his father Jeff barely masks his anger and his incredulous sister Liz is openly scornful.
Directed by Kyra Sedgwick, Space Oddity attempts to span different worlds, a romantic drama of family, relationships, hopes and frustrations with an eye on the stars and a peripheral awareness of the underlying science, starring A Haunting in Venice’s Kyle Allen as Alex, his life further complicated when he arranges an appointment to discuss life insurance requirements with Dark Phoenix’s Alexandra Shipp as broker Daisy, introducing a distraction when he needs to remain focused.
Existing in a Hallmark tinted world where the requisite tragedy which drives Alex so hard he feels his only avenue is permanent offworld isolation is kept neatly offscreen, Space Oddity is pleasant but unchallenging, well performed by an affable cast which includes True Blood’s Carrie Preston and Sedgwick’s husband as Jane and Jeff and filmed in the leafy suburban scenery of affluent Rhode Island, its genteel postcard perfection an alien environment removed from Earthly concerns.
The attraction and growing bond between Alex and Daisy immediate and genuine while the proposition which will potentially separate them remains a tenuous possibility, the hurdle their young relationship must overcome is not events so much as Alex’s acceptance of the facts of the situation; too obviously perfect for each other, like orbital mechanics the plotting of the trajectory is predetermined beyond any reasonable variables or errors before launch.
Rebecca Banner’s script written to a template as precise as the stages of a rocket launch, she presents a tale parallel to that told before in Proxima, Astronaut and the most recent season of For All Mankind but with scientific detail kept strictly at ground level and adult responsibilities yet to dim the bright optimism of the leads, and that Space Oddity is enjoyable at all is entirely down to Allen and Shipp and the charming performances which Sedgwick has drawn from them.