MOVIE: THE SPACE BETWEEN
STARRING: MICHAEL CRAM; AMY JO JOHNSON; SONYA SALOMAA; JULIA SARAH STONE
DIRECTED BY: AMY JO JOHNSON
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
When I watch an independent film there are a lot of ways that the viewing can go. Typically, I brace for something that doesn’t survive my criticism, due to a lack of budget, poor writing, or star power, but there are times where it leaves a big smile on my face. The Space Between is the first feature film from Amy Jo Johnson, actor of Power Rangers stardom, and she has delivered a movie that will leave you extremely happy. For her first time behind the camera this a rousing success, in a heartfelt comedy about a family involved in a difficult situation. Along the road they learn about how to deal with responsibilities, even if they are not by choice. The Space Between is a gentle and authentic film.
For Mitch (played delightfully by Michael Cram) his life seems easy going. He works at a go-kart track and loves his family...that is till he finds out he's not the father of his child. A returned letter in the mail reveals that his wife Jackie (Sonya Salomaa) sent a message to the real father of their child. In a fit of passion and slight rage, Mitch takes to the road to find the man and do...something? Beat him up? Maybe. Confront him? Sure. Either way, he drives in his yellow gremlin car to “handle” this traumatic revelation, while Jackie, her wild mother Dinah (Maria Ricossa), friend Amelia (Johnson), her father Nick (Michael Ironside), and friend Marcus (David Paetkau) set out in a limo to find Mitch. Meanwhile on the road, Mitch unexpectedly met young Emily (Julia Sarah Stone), a girl dealing with her own issues, but joining the journey to self discovery with a new friend.
The most impressive aspect of The Space Between is Amy Jo Johnson. The writer/director has put together a script that always feels honest and a cast that works perfect together. The sparked friendship between Cram and Julia Sarah Stone reminded me of films such as Harold and Maude, while the split up family gives a Little Miss Sunshine vibe. It is a big family of flaws and disfunction, but it's their problems. Johnson films in close quarters, while pulling the camera back to follow the group on big open roads. The witty banter between family draws out plenty of laughs and moves down the road.
If you know about Amy Jo Johnson's career, she also happens to be a musician, so it's no surprise that the soundtrack of the film is full of well placed catchy road tunes, which only adds to the light-hearted nature of the film. There are a fair share of scenes that could have been removed, that often feel contrived, and out of place, but I viewed these as growing pains for a first time director.
Meanwhile, a film of this independent stature, typically falls for weird cliches, but we gratefully never get them. When Mitch finally arrives at his destination of confronting the father of the child he's been taking care of, it's not a meeting of melodrama. In fact, the conversation feels adult, surprising us with every action between the two. There has been a period of growth along this road, which included a time for reflection, and a friend in Emily, someone that Mitch might not realize how much he needed...and she needed in the end.
The Space Between is what I like to call good, clean, family fun! Here's a film of some serious subjects like infidelity, depression, and fractured families, but it never loses sight of it's kindness. The humor is always light, no matter how sour the situation gets. It's extremely hard to not enjoy a film like The Space Between. I can't wait to see where Amy Jo Johnson's career will go from here. The Power Ranger packs a lot of punch with this adorable first feature. If you have the chance, go see The Space Between.
Written by: Leo Brady