Stowaway Tears In Space

Stowaway Tears In Space
Written by Subhash K . Jha


Starring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette

Directed  by Joe Penna

Rating: ***

 Normally I  stay away from stories  about outerpace  and spaceships. Star Wars is  the least favourite  of  my movie franchise  . And Lost In Space has me  lost.

Last year the  series Away  featuring  the amazing Hillary Swank showed the human side of a female  astronaut’s life. Beyond the ‘roger’ and ‘copy that’   there is  a life that  these  outerspace explorers leave behind.

 Stowaway is  filled with longing and   desire, an urgent  hankering for  human  contact in a mission to Mars. There are  only three members  in this 2-year mission ,  when a  fourth suddenly makes himself visible. How did  Michael (Shamier Anderson) get there? It is not important  how he came to be on the spaceship.What needs  to be  looked into is, how can he stay on a board  when there is limited oxygen  on board?

It is  a rather staggering coincidence that  oxygen and  its absence is  a  looming threat to life on this drama of desperate survival. We all know about that , don’t we?  The  writing( by  director Joe Penna and  Ryan Morrison) is more  pre-emptive  than futuristic, more  ‘now’ than later. It has a certain limited   luminescence in the way  the characters  reach  out to one another in their time of  abject   solitude.

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The  very  accomplished Toni Collette(whose praised performance in the hit horror film Hereditary  was  in my opinion, undeserved) plays  the  ship’s commander with  a steely determination,  while Anna Kendrick and  Daniel Dae Kim are the other two members  of the team. The director takes little  time in establishing the equation  among the three. Like I always say, put accomplished  actors on the screen and leave them  to their own devices.Director Joe Penna desists from  over-directing his actors. Their relationship  grows  organically  from the  plot.

  The  precious  bonding of the  trio is suddenly   under pressure when  the stowaway reveals himself. As  the  stowaway ,  Shamier Anderson is  vulnerable  and  provocative. This  relatively unknown  actor delivers this  precious tiny  film’s best performance, though clearly the  actor controlling this fragile  film on hope  and  humanism  is  Anna Kendrik. She  controls  not only the progression of the plot but also  the  destiny of  the other characters.  Her  function and role in the climax is heartstopping in its  intensity.

Though shot in a Covid situation with  just four characters  locked away  on  a set(albeit a very authentic one)  Stowaway never gives off the feeling of being small  or compromised in scale. Though largely  dialogue-oriented the canvas suggests an epic bigness of scale and emotions.,  probably  because   director Joe Penna is a guitarist and knows how to use that stage  to  communicate the essence  of life.

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