Toronto Festival: space explores feminine and beyond stereotypes

The conquest of space comes to the women’s this year at the Toronto Film Festival (Tiff) with two films in which Natalie Portman and Eva Green explore, each in their own way, the torments of female astronauts.
“Lucy in the Sky” opens with Natalie Portman in zero gravity, zen in her big spacesuit, begging her superiors to stay a few more minutes in space, above the Earth, before returning to the floor of cows and find the routine of everyday life.

In “Proxima”, Eva Green navigates through the challenges facing astronauts, an elitist club that is not very open to women, and in particular the demanding preparation for space travel.

The two actresses walk in the footsteps of other big Hollywood stars who have donned the astronaut costume in recent years: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”), Matt Damon (“Alone on Mars”), Matthew McConaughey (“Interstellar”), Ryan Gosling (“First Man: The First Man on the Moon”) and Brad Pitt in “Ad Astra”, soon on the screens.

Turning into an epic space “is so much a child’s dream,” Natalie Portman told AFP. “There are only about 80 people who, so far, have gone into space … it’s really a rare opportunity and these are unique personalities” who have made these space trips.

“I think I’m a little too old now” to apply for NASA, joked the 38-year-old American actress. “But maybe not, it seems that space travel will all be privatized soon …”

“Existential crisis”

If she succeeds, it is to be hoped that her return to Earth will be better than for her character in “Lucy in the Sky”.

This film is inspired by the life of Lisa Nowak, an American astronaut whose gossip press was hot after arrest for assaulting another woman in 2007 after returning to Earth because of her affair with an astronaut for whom she had a crush.

For his role in the cinema, Portman focused on the philosophical aspect of this story.

“It’s so rare to see on the screen a story of a woman having an existential crisis,” said the actress who wonders: “When we come back from space, we saw the Earth as a trivial object … what is life like on Earth when we saw the whole galaxy? ”

The production of this film also plays with the formats: extra-large screen when the heroine is in space, reduced to 4/3 when she is back in the suburbs of Texas.

The goal was to “put you in the mood” of the character of Natalie Portman, told AFP the director of the film Noah Hawley, whose achievement has been moderately welcomed by critics.

“Freeze or roast to death”

On the other hand, the specialists of the 7th art have applauded “Proxima”, and in particular the fact of having shot this French film partly in Germany, in the premises where the European Space Agency prepares its astronauts for the trips in the space.

Eva Green embodies in this feature a mother who is torn by conflicting feelings as she prepares for a long space mission that will separate her from her daughter.

Here again, the fragility of human emotions is explored: director Alice Winocour explained to the press that she wanted to go beyond the stereotype of the superman astronaut.

The two characters portrayed by Natalie Portman and Eva Green are perfectionists struggling to cope with stress levels beyond the ordinary.

“Nothing is more dangerous than literally sitting in a giant bomb, a rocket, and going where there is no air or water, and where you can either freeze or roast to death, if things go wrong, “said Noah Hawley.

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