The Space Between -- Film Review
EmptyAn earnest heartstring-tugger set in the wake of 9/11, "The Space Between" comes with ready-made emotional weight and benefits from a solid performance by Melissa Leo but is less successful than it might have been. It stands a chance of moving audiences in a limited theatrical run, but seems unlikely to overcome broader resistance to features revolving around the event.
Leo, more caustic than usual but again convincing as a working-class woman struggling with misfortune, plays Montine, an alcoholic flight attendant on the verge of getting fired for her quick temper. Working on a flight that is grounded mid-route when the September 11 attacks occur, she is stuck caring for a 10-year-old Muslim boy who was flying alone. Though reluctant to engage with young Omar, she caves in after learning that his father worked at the Trade Center. She goes AWOL from work in an attempt to get the boy to New York and search for his father.
Their ensuing road trip is shadowed by terror-related issues both predictable, such as Omar's Pakistani heritage provokes bigotry, and unexpected. Writer/director Travis Fine handles the thawing relationship between the two protagonists well, but his screenplay is too on-the-nose in its pursuit of emotional resonance, particularly when it comes to Montine's family and the losses in her past.
As Omar, young thesp Anthony Keyvan is capable but stuck in a thin role that keeps him in precocious good-boy mode throughout. Happily, Fine doesn't push him to act cute, but something more was needed to balance this two-hander and to deepen the bond Fine eventually envisions between the boy and his new guardian.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival
Production company: TSB Films
Cast: Melissa Leo, Brad William Henke, AnnaSophia Robb, Phillip Rhys, Anthony Keyvan
Director/screenwriter: Travis Fine
Producers: Travis Fine, Kristine Fine
Director of photography: Marc Shap
Production designer: Elizabeth Garner
Music: Joey Newman
Costume designer: Samantha Kuester
Editor: Tom Cross
Sales Agent: Kevin Iwashina, Parlay Media; Graham Taylor, WME Global
No rating, 85 minutes