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Stowaway Movie Review - The Kindness Of A Stranger

The characters in Stowaway use their brains and hearts.  


I have not (and probably never will) visited outer space, but the way Anna Kendrick reacts in the zone is precisely how I imagine myself acting in the particular situation. Kendrick plays Zoe, a medical researcher with an affable personality. There is something about Kendrick that warms our hearts at her sight. She has one of those friendly faces which has the power to put a stranger at ease. You won't feel left out in her company as she would treat everyone with the same amount of affection and tenderness. This friendly vibe, which seems to be naturally integrated within this wonderful actress, plays an integral part in her role of Zoe. Because a decision regarding the extension of time is made by Zoe during a critical moment, that typically would have come across as a lackadaisical excuse to extend the runtime. But given that it's Kendrick who wears the spacesuit of Zoe, the opinion sounds logical, and you go along with it.

Stowaway follows a crew sent on a mission to Mars. This crew consists of Zoe, the biologist David (Daniel Dae Kim), and their commander Marina (Toni Collette). They go about their tasks smoothly when Marina finds an unconscious Michael (Shamier Anderson), the launch plan engineer, and the titular stowaway, injured and hidden inside the most pivotal area of the spaceship. Soon, this stowaway generates conflict on board and drives the film forward. 

The genius of Stowaway lies in the creation of its characters and the competency of the actors. It's one of those rare instances where the plot is driven by the characters and not the other way around. The actors have thoroughly studied the personalities of the people they put themselves into, raising them first from the pages to the screen and then from screen to actuality. You are told how crucial this mission is for David, but you also see the passion reflected in his eyes. Collette infuses Marina with the sturdiness of a real-life commander. She appears tough and level-headed in front of her crew and breaks down in isolation, away from the gaze of her teammates. 

When the problem arose, requiring them to take sides, I waited for the film to fall into the clutches of banality with loud arguments and high-pitched noise. Every now and then, Stowaway comes dangerously close to falling into a cliché. The way Michael is found hints at suspicion towards his nature. Is he bad news? Can he be trusted? When he regains consciousness and starts panicking as if his pants are on fire, you expect him to spill dirty secrets about the mission and reveal the ulterior motives of the main organization on the earth. There is even a disaster that arrives when things look bright and promising for these people. You think that at least now they will start playing the "blame game." But this crew is really a professional and have been really trained before being sent on the mission. You usually don't see this level of maturity in other films where characters act all panicky and take stupid decisions in the face of a calamity as if they were sent to space without formal training. The characters in Stowaway make informed decisions based on their experiences. They think with their hearts and minds and consider every possibility within their perspective before taking any action. No matter what side they choose, the crew sympathizes with each other, and you sympathize with them. They all act like humans and work on their instincts of compassion and survival.

I love and respect films that focus on making humans than characters. The kind of authenticity it lends to the material is unparalleled and instantly sucks you into the narrative. Looking back, I can, with great detail, recall the sweet conversation on jazz between David and Michael or Zoe's thrilled face at the sight of the Earth or Marina's defeated tears during a frantic call. I was invested in these people and their movements and wanted them to overcome all obstacles. When it ended, I wrote in my notebook: one of the best space films of this year. But that was last night. Since then, this film, its events, and especially its characters have glued themselves into my mind. Like an infinite loop, they have been running in my thoughts, visiting the kind, gentle, and emotional expressions of the characters over and over again. A part of me wishes it didn't give us that line in the end. I wanted the scene to live in silence. But it's not that big an issue. It didn't change the way I overall felt about the film. This is an emotionally charged story about survival and sacrifice featuring real, lived-in humans. Stowaway, unequivocally, is one of the best films I have seen this year.

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from Movie Reviews https://moviesinmydna.blogspot.com/2021/05/stowaway-movie-review-kindness-of.html
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