Alice Winocour’s – a creator who proved to be a great screenwriter, working with the director, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, in the production of the award-winning Mustang (2015) –latest film pays homage not only to the hard work and sacrifices of those who are hypnotized by the dream of exploring the endless space, but also the dilemmas of modern women.
Proxima tells the story of the astronaut, Sara (the wonderful Eva Green), who tries to combine dedication to her work and the urge to cross the new frontier with a sense of maternal duty and love for her daughter, Stella. The film, which could suggest that it will be another image focused on space flights, an intimate vision of astronaut effort, which is interwoven with homesickness and family drama, surprisingly keeps the feet hard on the ground.
Winocour is not looking for sensation. Yes, you should expect that the narrative will be focused on the relationship between mother and daughter, but it’s not just about the arrangement of these two bodies in the cosmos of problems – many alien satellites orbit around them, interfering in their common space path. It is a portrait of a world in which a woman, regardless of age, always has a harder time. It is harder, because not only she makes extremely difficult choices at every step (e.g. putting her daughter in the care of her husband, with whom she is separated – which was also a kind of choice in itself), but she also collides with work in a profession commonly associated with men.
Something that, in the opinion of some, could be regarded as a courteous concern (e.g. comments from astronaut colleague Mike – played by Matt Dillon) becomes another obstacle in the experience of Sara: sexist jokes mocking of her disposal. The cool distance of the ex-husband appears like a malicious lack of sensitivity and simple human care. Physical effort, murderous preparation for flight into space, is becoming more and more torture.
Although Sara is torn apart by this experience of a lonely woman, who absolutely has to gain everything as if on the battlefield, she does not give up her femininity, feeling her gender and fighting the stubborn, silent battle with the whole hostile world. She will not turn into a “space man”, as she says, but will remain a woman (she does not even want to suppress menstruation with drugs, opting for extremely uncomfortable hardships).
Proxima condenses the experience of modern women. It is a
loud voice, strong commentary and an emphatic manifesto. The experiences of
Sara and her daughter, who also learns how to function in a hostile reality,
where love must be dosed, is watched like a great thriller, as if the movie was
made by some master of horror. Winocour spares no tension, keeping viewers in
the uncertainty until the last minutes of the film. However, what is most
moving and frightening, is the realization that most women live their whole
lives in such a thriller – often balancing on the thin line between meeting
biological needs, dreams and what society requires of them.
 I deliberately used the term “the new frontier” before, designating the cosmos as a new border to cross, new places to discover, and designing a pattern of a cowboy from the Wild West to be an astronaut.