STARRING: Oriol Aubets, Anthony Blake, Manel Solás,Abel Folk, Joan Frank Charansonnet, Hans Richter , Karen Owens

2007, 116 Minutes, Directed by:
Carlos Atanes

A science fiction film as likely to divide viewers as 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Fountain did. Not that it is that good or anything. It's just that if you’re in the wrong mindset then this 2007 Spanish feature will most likely disappoint.

Oriol Aubets is Tony, a sci-fi geek who has had his share of bad luck. We make our own luck as they say though, and the same goes for Tony: he’s simply too much of a dreamer to adequately cope with reality. His video store consisting of mainly esoteric sci-fi titles is (unsurprisingly) a financial disaster. (“It’ll be like a drunk running a bar,” his father-in-law wisely predicted.) His relationship with his live-in girlfriend is also troubled but what did you expect when you prefer to sit around all day playing videogames in your pajamas instead of visiting your parents-in-laws with her?

One day he attends a sci-fi conference with a friend where a well-known Spanish science fiction writer is making a rare appearance. The writer announces to an unbelieving audience that he was quit writing because reality has overtaken fiction: he has made contact with an alien race and his latest audio CD supplies tips on how to travel to Proxima Centauri, the star closest to the Earth “only” 4.2 light years away.

Tony decides to give the technique a shot and before you can say Altered States, Tony is stranded on a desert planet orbiting said star a sort of an intergalactic refugee camp overlooked by strange aliens. (Surprisingly the sci-fi writer’s mode of transport involves a process of sensory deprivation, so it should come as no surprise there are a lot of hippies also stumbling about on some planet in the Alpha Centauri star system.)

But is any of it real? Shortly before Tony’s trip he is kidnapped by some UFO cult “deprogrammers” hired by his girlfriend who tells him that he is in relapse after receiving treatment at a mental institution. Is Tony nuts? The ending isn’t quite what you’d expect, but is still somewhat more ambiguous when one thinks about it.

Proxima should appeal the most to hard SF fans with a less impatient disposition. Less patient viewers will most likely be driven to distraction by the film’s somnambulant pace. We found it flawed at best the sort of movie that might be better in its novelization than the actual movie.

Clocking in at 116 minutes it could easily have been trimmed down to a more digestible 90 minutes or so. Whilst Oriol Aubets does a decent job at making us identify with Tony (being a fellow sci-fi geek helps), the truth is that Tony’s dilemma isn’t all that interesting or involving, even when looked over by alien captors that appear in the guise of what appears to be enormous flying turds . . .



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