Hello, dear readers! While the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival wrapped up a few weeks ago now, I have two final reviews from the fest that I wanted to share before we move onto other fests and events this summer. Here are my thoughts on Attachment from Gabriel Bier Gislason and Kyra Sedwick’s Space Oddity, which isn’t technically a genre film but I wanted to check it out all the same.
Attachment: For writer/director Gabriel Bier Gislason’s Attachment, a meet-cute between two women yearning for some kind of connectivity in life takes a sinister turn once it is revealed that a dangerous demonic force threatens to destroy not only their relationship but their very lives as well. Attachment is a confidently crafted debut feature from Gislason that thoughtfully examines Jewish folklore in ways I haven’t seen before (it would pair well with The Vigil) and it also features a pair of fantastic performances from both Josephine Park and Ellie Kendrick who do a beautiful job here of making it easy for viewers to emotionally invest in their characters throughout the horrendous journey that they embark on throughout this story.
At the start of Attachment, we’re introduced to Maja (Park), a former actress who starred in a popular children’s series as she’s about to attend a reading for a group of anxious kids looking to see their favorite character in person at their local library. As Maja prepares herself to deal with the expectant audience, she meets Leah (Kendrick), a student from London who she immediately clicks with. The women engage in a passionate love affair that quickly hits a road bump when Leah suffers a seizure, and must return home to be cared for by her domineering mother Chana (Sofie Gråbøl). Maja decides to throw caution to the wind and accompanies Leah back to London. And while Leah’s mom tends to her daughter’s needs during her recuperation, Maja begins to suspect that Chana is the driving force behind some sinister occurrences that put the young lovers squarely in harm’s way.
As someone who admittedly has limited knowledge of Jewish folklore and culture in general, I think one of my favorite things about Attachment is how it sparked me to go on my own journey of discovery once I finished watching the film, proving that highlighting all kinds of cultures, religions, belief systems in popular culture is a brilliant way of encouraging people to embrace viewpoints and stories they may not have explored otherwise (in fact, I brought up some of the elements in Attachment in a discussion a few weeks back for a popular culture class I took during my last term). In this story, Maja herself is very much an outsider to Judaism so she struggles to navigate her way in Leah’s world at times, even befriending a local bookstore owner (David Dencik) who also happens to be her girlfriend’s uncle. And without giving too much away about where the story heads in Attachment, Maja undergoes a reckoning of sorts once she realizes that you should never judge someone’s motivations without trying your best to understand their beliefs, and that’s a lesson I think a lot of people out there could benefit from these days.
From a craft standpoint, there’s a lot to admire about Attachment. Gislason’s story is extremely well done, allowing us time to really invest in these characters and their respective journeys throughout the film. I also think that the production design, specifically in Leah’s somewhat oppressively decorated apartment, does a great job of elevating some of the themes at play here. Valdemar Winge Leisner’s cinematography is excellent too, perfectly capturing the intimate moments of Leah and Maja’s budding romance at certain times and then also elevating the tension and dread otherwise that is quietly rippling throughout Attachment as well. Gislason proves here that he’s most definitely a talent to watch, and I hope that he continues to do more in the genre realm in the future.
Movie Score: 4/5
Space Oddity: While it’s not really a genre film per se, I was still rather curious about checking out Space Oddity since it marks the first time Kyra Sedgwick is directing a feature film (she’s done a number of TV episodes over the years), and I wanted to see what she could do with longer-form storytelling. And I feel like with Space Oddity, Sedgwick does a great job of creating a story that’s filled with a ton of heart, features a charming romance, and also explores the ramifications of dealing with trauma, and how some people’s approach to such difficulties are different from others. Suffice to say, Space Oddity is a delight even if it doesn’t quite dig as deep as I was hoping from an emotional perspective.
In Space Oddity, Alex McAllister (Kyle Allen) is gearing up to be a part of a privately funded expedition called “Mission to Mars” where he and other participants will be sent to the Red Planet to live out their lives there in an attempt to establish a society away from Earth. Alex’s desire to leave our planet isn’t exactly embraced by his family though. His tough-love dad Jeff (Kevin Bacon) just thinks that Alex is going through a phase and will soon wise up enough to want to take on the family business. His mother Jane (Carrie Preston) is just happy that there’s something motivating Alex after a family tragedy has left him reeling. And Alex’s publicist sister Liz (Madeline Brewer) decides to take on her brother’s future excursion as a personal project that she wants to manage.
But before Alex can embark on his trip to Mars, which may or may not be nothing more than a hoax, he encounters Daisy (Alexandra Shipp), who has Alex seriously reconsidering his decision to give up on his Earth-bound existence after finding a reason to want to stay.
While Sedgwick does approach the dramatic elements in Space Oddity with a rather light touch, never delving too deep into the trauma that Alex and the rest of the McAllister family are facing, there is still a lot to enjoy about the story beyond that. These days, I think most of us feel like escaping this world is something we’re ready to do - no questions asked - but what exactly are the ramifications of a decision such as this? The idea of going to Mars is exciting too, but is that experience something we’d be willing to give up everything for in return? That’s a big ask, and it’s those questions that are front and center throughout Space Oddity as we watch Alex do his best to try and navigate his way through trying to figure out just what exactly he wants for his future.
Of course, Daisy complicates Alex’s plan and both Allen and Shipp are adorable together here in Space Oddity. Daisy herself is carrying a bit of baggage as well, as she is trying to work her way through the guilt from some previous misdeeds and her relationship with Alex provides her with the motivation to do so. I was also excited to see Preston pop up in Space Oddity, as she was one of my favorite performers on True Blood who I felt like never quite got the love that she deserved for her performance on the series, and Bacon’s stoic portrayal of a father who struggles with trying to accept his children’s life choices is strong as well.
As mentioned, I do wish that Rebecca Banner’s script for Space Oddity went a little deeper than it does, but the film does deliver a delightfully charming experience brimming with emotion that demonstrates Sedgwick’s keen abilities behind the camera as a storyteller. Admittedly, Space Oddity may not do much for genre fans who are looking for a story with more of a sci-fi bent to it, but I think for those in search of an endearing romance-fueled drama that they’ll find much to enjoy here.
Movie Score: 3/5