Movies about space and astronauts are easy to come by, be it the space operas like Star Wars we know and love or the more human-scale sci-fi dramas like Gravity. One thing most films set in space have is a seemingly-endless cash flow and budget to make the stories seem out of this world. But as it turns out, a small budget is perfectly fine to deliver tension, drama, and humour in space in the Canadian short film, Capsule.
The directorial debut of Toronto’s Dani Kind, best known for her roles on the CBC comedy Workin’ Moms and TV cult fan favourite Wynonna Earp, Capsule is a moving and entertaining short film. Starring Michael Rinaldi and Andrew McKee and with music by Patrick Watson, Capsule is an excellent example of how talent and good storytelling can make for a fascinating watch, no matter the runtime or budget.
Billed as a “dark short comedy about the human need for connection”, Capsule’s main focus is NASA astronaut Robert Ballentine (Rinaldi). Adrift in a space capsule, Robert is utterly alone, his communications with his mothership having ended some time ago. Now, nearing the final days of his mission and with supplies dwindling, he and his vessel have seen better days. Keeping himself sane – or as sane as one can be in his situation – Robert avoids “space fever” by being bound to the duty of his science experiments. While contemplating the end of his mission and longing for human contact, a surprise event brings unlikely salvation for a man who has lost all hope.
Clocking in at under 20 minutes, Capsule packs a surprising emotional punch. There are moments of gallows humour that reflect a genuine contemplation of human existence. It’s an accomplished, ambitious debut. Kind’s time spent in front of the camera translates well to her skill in the director’s chair as she guides Rinaldi through the story.
Set in a single location with Rinaldi, who also wrote the script, it feels very reminiscent of Matt Damon in The Martian on a smaller scale. Rinaldi’s performance is effective as he proves to be a true storyteller on the page and compelling on screen. Fun fact: Rinaldi’s play “Toothpaste and Cigarettes” was adapted into the film The F Word starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Entirely crowdfunded through an Indiegogo campaign and produced by an all-Canadian team behind and in front of the camera, Capsule packs a powerful punch in a short amount of time making it one of the year’s must-see shorts.