Paris native Eva Green turns 42 years young on July 6, and to help celebrate this talented actress’ birthday, watch her 2019 film, where she plays an astronaut about to leave on a one-year mission in “Proxima”. Vive la France…and Eva!
“Proxima” (2019) – “Behind every working woman is an enormous pile of unwashed laundry.” – cartoonist Barbara Dale
“It’s not difficult to take care of a child. It’s difficult to do anything else while taking care of a child.” – Julianne Moore
Sarah (Eva Green) is a mom.
She is a working mom.
She is an astronaut.
Director Alice Winocour’s film takes on the well-documented tug-of-war between motherhood and the workplace, because while Sarah looks to the stars, she also feels the pull on Earth in the form of her elementary school-age daughter Stella (Zelie Boulant). Despite the potential for a troubling, space-age drama, “Proxima” floats and soars with gentle, nuanced tones. The picture’s fulcrum remains with mother and daughter, but Sarah’s training for her extended business trip on the International Space Station is the device to emphasize the aforementioned eternal struggle.
Green – who might be best known for her femme fatale roles in “Casino Royale” (2006), “300: Rise of an Empire” (2014) and “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” (2014) – takes a subtle approach here as Sarah, a Frenchwoman, who carries a deep, tranquil strength. She has the capacity and smarts for CEO-like leadership, but instead focuses her talents on her out-of-this-world profession with proficiency and grace.
Winocour and Green do not insist that Sarah needs to work twice as hard as a man, but the film demonstrates that she needs to always maintain a calm aura of professionalism in a most stressful work environment. She’s part of a three-person, space-traveler team, but her American colleague Mike (Matt Dillon) seems to constantly test her with sometimes-overt, sometimes-understated sexist comments. Some evolved men might think such behavior has been left behind in the 20th century, but ask any woman if sexism is dead, and she might say that chauvinism is a zombie that will never perish.
Meanwhile, Mike can freely express concern for his family or proudly parade them at a press conference or networking event. He’s the all-American type who radiates machismo. Mike will grill hot dogs with his wife and kids, and isn’t afraid to proclaim – to a group of eager reporters – that Sarah is a great addition to the team, partially because her French culinary skills will be most useful in space. Meanwhile, her family is in a state of repair, as she shares custody of Stella with her ex-husband (Lars Eidinger).
Winocour – who cowrote “Mustang” (2015), a story about five Turkish sisters facing the nauseating prospect of arranged marriages during their teen years – is not dealing with such extremes here, but her refreshing perspective carries weight when chronicling Sarah’s journey.
Sarah internalizes everything and appears to not only feel eyes gazing upon her within the story, but also with theatre audiences too. Still, she pushes hard with her training, while attempting to maintain an equilibrium between work-life and home-life that just might not be possible. The film refrains from emotional extremes and trauma, but Sarah’s never-ending balancing act is a very real and primal burden.
These messages ring true for her and probably with working moms everywhere, whether an office commute is five miles on the freeway or 254 miles straight up.
⭐⭐⭐ 1/2 out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Directed by: Alice Winocour
Written by: Alice Winocour, Jean-Stephane Bron, Marcia Romano, and Nynne Oldenburg
Starring: Eva Green, Matt Dillon, Lars Eidinger, Zelie Boulant, and Sandra Huller
Runtime: 107 minutes
Image credits: Pathe