-Review by Nic Brown-
What is Science Fiction? If you ask the “Sy Fy” channel it could be anything from Star Trek to professional wrestling. If you ask die hard fans of the genre you get various answers; it is fantasy, it is fiction based on science, it is our imaginations of the future. Writer/director Carlos Atanes has his own unique view in his science fiction film PROXIMA.
Tony (Oriol Aubets) is essentially your normal, everyday guy… except for his love of science fiction. His girlfriend Natalia (Karen Owens) can’t understand it and his best friend Lucas (Joan Frank Charansonnet), while seeming to encourage his interest, also holds the genre in thinly veiled contempt. To Tony though, it is something almost spiritual, the opening of the mind to possibilities.
When Tony hears famous Sci-Fi writer, Felix Cadecq ( Manel Solas), speak at a convention, he is shocked to hear the author renounce the genre as pointless. Cadecq claims that he has been shown the truth, that we are now the protagonists in a grand story of our own and that he holds the key to mankind moving into its place in the stars.
While everyone else laughs at Cadecq’s ideas, Tony takes them to heart and picks up the author’s last work, a CD containing the secret he’s claimed to discover that allows you to free your mind and thus leave this world. Cadecq says we must open our minds and travel to Proxima, a nearby (in galactic terms) star where other intelligent life awaits so mankind can take its place in the stars. Tony wants to believe and he tries Cadecq’s method with shocking results. Was it a dream or did he really find himself in space for a moment looking down on our world? The experience opens a memory for him that takes him in search of The Messenger (Anthony Blake), a strange prophet who was Cadecq’s guide.
Natalia and Lucas set out to save Tony from himself and they employ a deprogrammer named Nestor (Abel Folk) to free Tony from the mental grasp of what they see as a cult. What is the truth of this story? Is it truly possible to physically journey to other worlds using just the power of your mind? Or is Tony under the spell of a hypnotic cult which must be stopped before he destroys his life?
Carlos Atanes’s film PROXIMA is a unique work in the science fiction field. It blends traditional elements of science fiction with new ideas, some seemingly close to reality, others pushing the limits of fantasy. The film shows Atanes has a keen eye for story telling. His principal character, Tony, is engaging and can easily be identified with by anyone who has ever stepped slightly outside the bounds of what society considers “normal” behavior and suffered the consequences. Although a minor character, Abel Folk’s role as Nestor stands out in the film. Nestor is the man whose job is brainwashing people to free them of brainwashing. His casual, matter of fact demeanor as he talks of torture and twisting of the human psyche makes him stand out even though he’s only on screen for about five minutes. The film is also packed with science fiction pop culture references that are a genuine treat for fans.
Atanes does not spoon feed his plot to the viewers like many conventional films do. He assumes a certain degree of patience and intelligence in his audience and as such, sometimes makes the viewer work through the problems with Tony rather than simply showing the answers. This, coupled with Atanes taste for somewhat outrageous side characters, can make the film at times confusing, but it is definitely worth the effort to see the film through to its conclusion. So if you’re looking for something different in science fiction from your traditional lasers and alien monsters, check out Carlos Atanes’s PROXIMA. Remember Proxima is not just a place, it’s a state of mind… literally.