Forever Into Space: Independent Film Review
Posted on April 28, 2015
‘Art is about luck, it’s about determination, it’s about being able to starve to get what you want’.
Audrey (Kelly Sebastian) is a poorly paid blogger and, out of financial necessity, a domestic minimalist. Evicted from her apartment she finds consolation in artistic twenty-something friends similarly dispirited about their futures. Lauren (Julianna Pitt) has turned to the sex industry, while Ollie (Oliver Fetter) submits himself to medical testing by a diet company that aims to kill his tastebuds. Writer-director Greg W. Locke describes his film as ‘anti-coming-of-age’: it’s characters experience very tangible obstacles to ‘making-it’ in the city as over-educated college graduates post-recession. The sedate pacing of Forever Into Space immerses us in their cheerfully fatalistic and sometimes distorted reality.
Locke’s film is as much about the city his characters inhabit as it is about their lives: the two are presented as inextricably linked. New York is Locke’s fifth character but he isn’t the first director to explore place in this way. It’s something he recognises. Sex & The City forms part of his characters’ own frame of reference while Woody Allen’s Manhattan is recalled in Locke’s gorgeous black and white cinematography. Locke’s New York is seen through the eyes of the dejected and near hopeless. Audrey’s city is closed off; the monochrome amplifies the divide. Colour, or happiness, is the realm of the rich, the privileged and the successful. The disparity, and widening gap, between New York’s rich and poor is a frequent topic of Audrey’s conversation.
It’s not cut and dried though. Locke reveals another side of the story. Audrey and her friends blame immigrants, people working longer hours, computers and overseas relocation for the lack of good jobs, but Locke also illuminates the twenty-somethings’ fragile work-ethic, lack of commitment and waning dedication to find employment. ‘I don’t want a real job,’ says Aaron (Tyler Evan Rowe) before admitting ‘I’m starting to feel bad I guess’. His father’s commitment to providing him with a private school education in the face of financial crisis is the source of his guilt. It’s not the only generational divide that opens up in Forever Into Space. When Audrey’s thirty-something sister (Julia Kelly) accuses her of being part of ‘the worst generation in history’ it’s easy to see her point: easy to perceive Audrey and her friends as entitled, as not trying hard enough.
“Forever Into Space is acutely relevant”
Yet Locke avoids choosing sides. Audrey and her friends are likeable, endearing and fun. In her first feature, Kelly Sebastian finely balances Audrey’s inclination towards laziness with wavering confidence, self-doubt and anxiety. The success of Forever Into Space relies on such character complexity and this fresh young cast deliver it with aplomb. The group’s perception that work should be enjoyable is presented not just as unrealistic but as a modern misconception: part of much bigger and more problematic social constructs. At times the messages feel a little too laboured but Forever Into Space remains acutely relevant.
Unlike Audrey, Lauren, Ollie and Aaron who say they should create their own jobs in one moment but waste time in the next, Locke and his crew spearhead the notion of ‘doing it yourself’. Forever Into Space was made on a budget of $880 and the quality of the finished film is impressive. Whether it uncovers the pressures faced by an unemployed generation of twenty-something graduates or unmasks their entitled attitudes depends very much on the viewer but Forever Into Space asks us to think about youth employment post-recession very carefully indeed.
Forever Into Space screens at the 20th Annual New Jersey International Film Festival on 30th May 2015. Keep tabs on local screenings of the film here and try a taster of the movie below.