There seems to be an unhealthy trend of shooting and wrapping film productions within a short time frame (A Fall from Grace, Appiness). But for Toronto indie Space & Time, writer/director Shawn Gerrard sees the appeal of a patient process. Space & Time has been shot over the period of 11 months; allowing the film to naturally capture the passage of, well, space and time. This lends a potentially special quality to the film’s story about a couple of twentysomethings enduring the break-up of their long-standing romantic relationship.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this opportunity was used to its fullest degree in Space & Time. While Gerrard’s movie deals with heartbreaking human growth that could be chronicled through passing seasons and changes in the performers’ physicality, the process is barely apparent. Aside from a few cutaways of Toronto scenery that have environmental differences, most of the film is shot indoors within offices and small apartments. And aside from minor costume changes, leading couple Sean and Siobhan (Steven Yaffee, Victoria Kucher) maintain consistent appearances. If you told me Space & Time was actually a project made for one of the GTA’s 48-hour film challenges, I would believe you.
There’s also an ongoing issue in Space & Time regarding the viewer’s waffling feelings for the film’s millennials. We’re supposed to feel sympathy for Sean and Siobhan, but some mixed signals tip us off that we should also be amused by their semi-bohemian lifestyle and not take their problems so seriously. The film has the material to be a hipster satire. A friend of Sean’s who is also going through relationship turmoil, D.D. (Risa Stone), admits she doesn’t want to break up with her partner because she likes their apartment. The same friend also has a brief monologue about her new obsession with vinyl. D.D. is a very funny character in the wrong movie.
Space & Time has an unmistakable shift in tone that cancels humorous possibilities in its story but, by then, the audience has already found Sean and Siobhan to be caricatures – even if Gerrard didn’t mean for his film to resemble a Portlandia sketch. And because the film’s integrity has been tarnished, the couple’s more sobering conversations about their future have the hollow essence of students doing dramatic scene work.
Space & Time aims to have a relatable identity, but sticks its landing in unrefined melodrama.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie