Anthony Mackie & Zoë Chao in Rom-Com – The Hollywood Reporter

Anthony Mackie & Zoë Chao in Rom-Com – The Hollywood Reporter

If Wes Anderson and Nancy Meyers Joined Forces to Remake the 2016 Sci-Fi Drama Passengersthe result would be something like If you were the lasta snappy but too-cute feature debut from director Kristian Mercado that premiered at SXSW.

Anthony Mackie and Zoë Chao star as a pair of astronauts stranded aboard a NASA shuttle that get lost in space, and their decent on-screen chemistry helps fuel a rom-com tackling questions of fidelity, of friendship and, well, of fornication, as the couple self-being drifts ceaselessly through the cosmos. Underpinned by a colorful DIY aesthetic that makes the most of its budget, the film is nevertheless sappy and, in terms of comedy, rather cringe-worthy, never quite finding the middle ground between romance and laughs.

If you were the last

The essential

Could use more gravity.

Place: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Projector)
Discard: Anthony Mackie, Zoe Chao, Natalie Morales, Geoff Stults
Director: Kristians Market
Scriptwriter : Angela Bourassa

1 hour 29 minutes

Written by Angela Bourassa, the high-concept story is intentionally low-fi from the start, revealing how Adam (Mackie) and Jane (Chao), two highly skilled space explorers, are stuck aboard a floating ship. whose interior resembles an oversized college dorm. following. With nothing to do but watch old 80s movies, exercise, water oxygen-providing plants, and eat a dwindling amount of Pop Tarts, the two grow closer. inevitably realizing that there is little hope that they will ever return to Earth.

Adam and Jane are also married, but they’ve been adrift for three years and it might finally be time to move on. The tension between them is initially at an all-time low, until Adam proposes that they have sex for health purposes – an idea which Jane initially rejects, until she realizes that he might be onto something. They talk a lot about masturbation, including references to Jane’s sizable collection of vibrators – NASA’s power screwdrivers fitted with rubber tips – and there’s something so clinical about their approach to carnal desire that it all sounds unsexy.

When the astronauts finally do, the filmmakers throw in a predictable but welcome twist that will bring them home to face the life they thought they were leaving behind. That’s when If you were the last gets a little serious, which is better than when he was trying to be funny, wondering how you treat your loved ones when you’re no longer in love, even though the whole world expects you to be happily reunited .

Mackie and Chao are good in those late scenes, which at least speak to something. On the other hand, all the shuttle stuff is a little silly and childish, with the two actors apparently having a lot of fun as their characters tango, descend on Lionel Richie, and ultimately get dirty. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s fun to watch them do these things, and plenty of jokes float through space never landing anywhere.

Aesthetically, If you were the last is an acquired taste, but it’s also where Mercado’s directorial skills are most evident. Avoiding any sort of sci-fi realism, he and production designer Chris Stull concoct a cartoonish papier-mâché universe where nothing is meant to be believable, keeping the tone whimsical in a very Wes Anderson-y way.

Indeed, the highlight of the movie is probably the set itself, which is about as far from a real spaceship and as close to an Ikea store as it gets. In this direction Last recalls another recent quirky entry into the genre: that of Claire Denis high life, a much darker take with a similar story about humans and their sexual needs drifting across the universe. (Instead of space vibrators, Denis’ film memorably included a device called “the fuckbox.”) Mercado’s film is infinitely lighter to one fault, but treads the same waters, using sci-fi to pose. questions about desire and relationships he then answers all too easily.

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