Proxima is one of the best films of the year. Eva Green and Zélie Boulant-Lemesle are exceptional in this quiet and intimate film. It’s a rare cinematic beacon made with such a delicate touch, you can’t help but admire the craftsmanship of its subtlety. Reminding you of recent films like Alice Rohrwacher‘s Happy as Lazzaro in the style of directing as an observer. Alice Winocour’s direction is beautifully precise and stylized in a vérité fashion.
At the center of Proxima is a heart-warming story of a mother and daughter. On the outside, is a tale of an astronaut preparing for a mission to space. By the end of the film, you are helplessly intertwined with their relationship and the hurdles they face. It’s beautifully told, with the great help of Eva Green’s naturalistic touch.
Sarah (Eva Green) is a French astronaut. She is the only woman in the ‘Proxima’ space program, of which she was chosen to go on a year-long endeavor. Normally, she lives alone with Stella (Zélie Boulant-Lemesle), her daughter. Sarah feels guilt and a strong pressure that’s built up by her extended periods away training. Their love is true, but with Sarah’s impending space mission, both mother and daughter must overcome the hardships to come together.
Often, the feelings felt, especially nearing the film’s end, are overpowering and emotive in a way that no other film has achieved this year. The mother-daughter relationship is flawlessly acted, portrayed with such reality and intimacy. It’s a remarkable sight as you become engrossed in the fiction, it almost feels like an unaltered truth. Hence, the term vérité comes to mind. Cinema vérité traditionally emphasizes naturalism and realism, and although not many films are classed as such nowadays, it seems perfectly fit for Proxima.
Winocour is able to seamlessly blend languages on-screen, you hardly realize when characters slip into German or Russian, when just previously speaking in French. It’s a wonderful phenomenon, the film’s ability to transform emotion and meaning through different dialects and languages. Only through Winocour’s delicate screenplay and direction is Proxima able to emote and connect so fantastically.
Proxima is a great film for all, exceptionally made and routed in universal emotions. Winocour’s film is without hesitation one of the best films of the year. It’s certainly one anyone should see in the cinema, under the current safety precautions needed of course. After a notable festival run last year, Proxima was one of the first films released in the reopening of UK cinemas amidst the ongoing pandemic. A beacon of hope in these dire times, it can only do more good as it reaches more audiences everywhere.