Cue the strings. Hilary Swank is headed to Mars for her latest drama, Away, coming to Netflix.
You may not need a box of tissues, but a slice of apple pie would go down well with this melodrama in space….
Swank plays Emma Green devoted mother of teenage daughter Alexis (Talitha Bateman) and wife to NASA astronaut Matt (Josh Charles). But as Emma leads an international team into the galaxies for a 3 year quest, hubby Matt must stay behind due to health concerns. Aww.
Poor Emma will do the brave modern thang and leave the family behind to conquer new frontiers. She reassures Alexis that she will return home, from beyond the rim.
“Just remember the further away I get I’m actually just getting closer to being back to you.”
The space team includes Russian Misha (Mark Ivanir), Indian Ram (Ray Panthaki), Brit Kwesi (Ato Essandoh) and Chinese Yu (Vivian Wu). Leading the NASA base is Darlene (Gabrielle Rose) often opposed to colleague George (Brian Markinson) -at least some change from the usual middle-aged white men.
But as the crew stop at a moonbase (is this a space pit stop?) not everything goes as planned. The script by Andrew Hinderake (Penny Dreadful, Pure Genius) plays with linear storytelling, concealing a key incident which occurs. I quite liked an interrogation which takes place and presents different versions of said incident. Whilst not quite borrowing from the ground-breaking Rashomon, it did begin to suggest a crime procedural in space.
Alas, this was regularly interrupted by the schmaltzy melodrama back on Earth, especially when jeopardy hits Emma’s family.
There’s also some tired conflict between the United Nations of astronauts, starting with abrasive Russia. I can’t imagine NASA or any self-respecting space agency would send up a group so susceptible to clashes this early in their expedition. Who tested them for team skills?
Away is produced by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Rise) and Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) amongst others. But with lines like “you couldn’t cure your mom’s cancer” much of the opening episode packs the emotional weight of a good daytime drama.
If this were on the Hallmark channel (there I said it) it would be one of their better offerings. Right now it’s just too earnest and needs more gravity.
Away airs Friday September 4 on Netflix.