Turning 30 wasn’t such a big deal for me. My twin brother and I celebrated by sipping some wine as we waited for the clock to strike midnight and chatting about the events earlier that day: Donald Trump’s inauguration. Compared to our worries about turning 30, many people had it far worse than we. However, the anxiety of reaching the go-to time for “adulting” is something that Space & Time captures relatively well. This new maplecore (re: cheap and Canadian) drama is a break-up story for stuck-in-a-rut Millennials.
Space & Time enters the lives of Sean (Steven Yaffee) and Siobhan (Victoria Kucher) on their seventh anniversary. They’re both on the cusp of their 30th birthdays, so their anniversary has them both pondering the future. Their date suggests intimacy as they cuddle by a campground fire instead of noshing on overpriced sharing plates downtown. However, they might as well be splitting nibbles with other people since they spend the night contemplating other lives.
Space & Time & Parallel Lives
Siobhan, a theoretical physicist, believes that parallel versions of people live in different universes. Somewhere another Siobhan and Sean are yuppies with kids. They might be rockers. They might be a cop or a doctor like the ones on TV. You get the idea.
It’s cute for a moment until Siobhan’s speculation sends a chill through the evening. Her metaphysical musing leads to fixation on believing that the grass is greener elsewhere. For Siobhan, turning 30 is a wake-up call that she’s settling for a perfectly normal, if predictable, routine. Their seventh anniversary proves their last.
The break-up inspires Sean and Siobhan to consider how their lives might continue separately or individually. They’re stuck in abstract limbo, banished to Siobhan’s speculative universe. They second-guess their actions in case a parallel self might have it better. Worse, they look back on their previous actions for missteps that the other “they” might have corrected.
Space & Time is like Imposter Syndrome: The Movie as neither party feels comfortable with their right to succeed. Siobhan pursues a post-doc position at Switzerland’s CERN lab, while Sean, a photographer, considers grad school in Paris. They also find new partners who are their exes’ polar opposites. Siobhan cozies up with her cohort Alvin (Andy McQueen), a geeky dude-bro who indefatigably pursues her. Sean, on the other hand, shacks up with DD (Risa Stone), a free-spirited lesbian with First World Problems up the wazoo. These are very different particles colliding in space, leaving the characters with lots to noodle on.
Captures Millennial Angst
However, the zany notion that everyone needs life in order by 30 unites them. They worry endlessly about where they are and where they’re going next. Writer/director Sean Gerrard explores the rabbit holes of each character’s existential angst. This talky, lo-fi affair affords each actor a moment to monologue and flesh out their character’s concerns. On one hand, it’s overly scripted. (Who talks like this?). On the other, each speech contains grains of truth. The film really gets Millennial angst. There’s a generation of thirtysomethings who threw their lives away for liberal arts degrees and co-dependent living. But this generation also has something freeing in that it can find happiness outside of the outdated definition that satisfied our parents. The people with two kids, two cars, and a house in the suburbs probably imagine parallel lives, too.
Gerrard intermittently injects the parallel Seans and Siobhans into the film. Space & Time might feature cutaways to the alter egos on their wedding day, or riffing on a guitar on the beach on a summer’s day. One wishes Space & Time ran with this motif more frequently. The visual counterpoints to the regular Sean and Siobhan further the musings we hear throughout the film. It’s one thing to listen to people talk about existential yarns. It’s another to step through different universes and experience how these variations on the same character exist within a continuum. The film bookends its story with fleeting images of the other couples and more consistent cutaways might have offset the talkiness of Space & Time by incorporating Siobhan’s theory into its device.
Toronto Plays Itself
The talkiness of the film admittedly somewhat betrays Space & Time’s constraints. This is one of those films where people gather ‘round sparsely-staged apartments with parquet floors and push their food around without eating it. However, the dialogue-heavy nature of the film lets the performances shine. Yaffee and Kucher are both strong while conveying their character’s restlessness and hunger. The characters are down to earth and relatable. Ditto Alex Paxton-Beesley as Siobhan’s sister Frances, a standout of the supporting cast whose natural delivery jives best with the film’s intermittent monologues.
The performances mostly carry this Toronto-shot drama, but the 6ix is a standout of the film. An eclectic indie soundtrack offsets the tinkling piano music as the film lets audiences experience the here-and-now that passes Sean and Siobhan by as they fret about the future. Gerrard captures a city that’s being squeezed out of its own productions and it’s refreshing to see TTC stations, pubs, and U of T haunts that aren’t disguised as American cities. That, however, is a take on “parallel lives” for another story.
Space & Time is hits home video on March 3 from IndieCan Entertainment.