Joe Penna confirms a good part of the hopes placed in him with Arctic in this new survival located this time in space
We discovered Joe Penna in 2018 with Arctic, his first feature film which had landed an out-of-competition selection at Cannes where Madds Mikkelsen delivered one of those intense, stripped-down and internalized performances which he has the secret in the skin of a character trying to survive in the frozen Arctic desert. Three years later, he is back on Netflix with a new survival in hostile terrain, in this case space. We follow the mission of a spaceship sent to Mars with the aim of eventually colonizing this planet. On board, we find Commander Marina Barnett (Toni Collette) accompanied by two scientists, Dr. Zoe Levanson (Anna Kendrick) and biologist David Kim (Daniel Dae Kim). After a restless takeoff,
Penna installs without downtime the bases of his suspense in weightlessness which he will develop with a purity from which he will never depart. The Brazilian is decidedly a filmmaker of atmosphere and with the help of the photo of Klemens Becker (who made his ranges as camera operator at Paul Greengrass) and the music – omnipresent throughout the story – of Hauschka ( Lion), it creates on screen an atmosphere as enveloping as it is distressing, without ever interfering with the outside since the only exchanges with Earth go through the prism of the commander’s helmet. Admittedly, it does not renew the genre in terms of a narrative that obeys a very classic canvas that it never seems to try to implode, as shown by its bias never to seek to create the slightest ambiguity. or to express doubts about the reason for the real presence on board the stowaway. What interests Penna is not so much to know which of the four will have to sacrifice themselves to allow the other three to survive but what this situation entails. As a metaphor for the questions of immigration which, in the eyes of some foreigners, pose the threat or the theme of social determinism since,
It is a pity that Penna does not avoid a certain didacticism and lazy Manichaeism in the writing of his characters in these areas. But its inventive realization (superb very graphic scenes off the ship), the refusal of the slightest concession to the dazzling, the openly anti-Hollywood aspect of this stroll in the heart of a devilish Hollywood genre intrigue, seduce and end up by carry the piece, despite its many imperfections. Not to mention the great part given to the astonishing Anna Kendrick, the real driving force behind the quartet of actors. Penna therefore crosses the always delicate step of the second film with great splendor.
By Joe Penna. With Toni Collette, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim… Duration: 1h56. Available from April 22.