by George Wolf
I don’t know how many jobs are more challenging than astronaut, but there can’t be many. And it is via that intense work experience that French writer/director Alice Winocour’s Proxima ruminates on the career struggles faced by women in every profession.
Eva Green carries this weight gracefully as Sarah, the only female member of a team of astronauts training for a year-long stint at an international space station. This means a year away from her young daughter Stella (Zelie Boulant), who will stay with her father/Sarah’s ex-husband Thomas (Lars Eidinger).
From the moment Sarah is introduced as a crew member by team leader Mike (Matt Dillon), her gender is fodder for subtle (and not so subtle) condescension. Resisting a heavy hand, Winocour (Mustang, Disorder) revels in the details of the job, showcasing the added strain carried only by Sarah.
The setting may center on spaceflight, but this is not a film about going into space. It is about preparing to go into space, preparing to leave your child, and preparing to be separated from your mother. And all of that preparing is work.
Green has never been better, and Winocour continues to display understated insight as a filmmaker. Like that walk among the stars that Sarah has long dreamed about, Proxima is quiet, but often emotionally dazzling.