The Space Between Us – Movie Discussion
Once in a while there is a story about someone entering the world for the first time, not as a child, but as a more mature person. They get to see the world for the first time and take it all in, but with the advantage of a seeing it with mature cognition and reasoning. I am David did so brilliantly (and seriously) with a child who had never been beyond the walls of a concentration camp. (Jim Caviezel stars—it’s worth seeing.) Blast from the Past did so in a light-hearted fashion as Brendan Frasier emerges from a bomb shelter after being locked away for 35 years. The Space Between Us is more like the latter. It’s light-hearted and heart-warming. He’s optimistic and naive, and his love interest is cynical and street smart.
I was thinking about why this movie worked as well as it did. In truth, I wasn’t expecting much, but we (myself and the two teens I saw it with) really enjoyed it. But why? I mean, it’s not like Asa Butterfield has any appeal to me, and the premise is a bit ridiculous, and the preview looked so-so. I think it worked for the same reason that he, Gardner (Asa Butterfield), appealed to Tulsa (Britt Robertson). He was naïve and innocent without being dumb or silly. He was confident and strong yet humble. He was simply free—free to love, free to be vulnerable, free to relate to others without guardedness or manipulation. It shocked Tulsa at first—“People don’t go around saying what they feel whenever they feel it… We have shields and guards…” As she spoke, however, the absurdity of what she was saying seemed to dawn on her, along with the beauty of his freedom, and she kind of ironically ended her speech with, “If we go around declaring our feelings, we might be…happy or something.” She sees the difference. She sees how happy he is, and knows how happy she would be, if only she could be open with her feelings.
As Gardner had a hard time with earth’s atmosphere, Tulsa pointed out, “Do you even know why you’re sick? Your heart is too big.” This is why the movie worked, because his heart was so big. It touched her, and it touched me. Just the idea of being loved by someone who could love that easily, that freely, that uncomplicatedly (is that word?!), that completely and whole-big-heartedly…that is a beautiful idea. It speaks to us at any age. It’s what we were made for—to be loved in that way, and then to be able to love in that way in return. It’s how God loves us. He sees the best in us. He longs to be with us. He shamelessly speaks love to us, without guard or shield. He just loves…and in the freedom of his love, He is happy, and He makes us happy. I think the reason this movie works at all is because Gardner loves Tulsa (despite all of her guards and shields and cynicism) with a love like God’s, and that strikes a deep chord within us, one that resonates, one we long for in our own lives.
The one major complaint I had about the movie was the sex. It was so sweet and innocent between them. And then, in the space of about a minute, they go from their first kiss to sex. First off, even the teens with me, who aren’t necessarily of the opinion that sex should be only for marriage, thought it happened too fast and were disturbed by it. So this isn’t just my “outdated” opinion (as if the Bible is ever outdated, but whatever). Even less conservative, younger viewers felt it was inappropriate. Also, can I just point out that this is a movie geared for younger audiences? Again, Asa Butterfield. He is not exactly going to draw an older crowd. This is a sweet little innocent love story… for young teens… until it isn’t. Until they have sex on the FIRST date (essentially). There was no time to savor the joys of holding hands and kissing. They just went straight to it without any deliberation about the big step they were taking in their relationship. Remember, it was also his FIRST time to even meet a girl his age, first kiss, first everything. Slow down!!!! They could have so easily snuggled and talked the night away (they were camping on a road trip) without anyone thinking it was unrealistically chaste (as if that’s a bad thing!). It would have been, in our opinion, much more realistic and so much sweeter if they had done so.
Questions for Discussion:
- What made Gardner attractive in the movie?
- How was his perspective different from Tulsa’s and what factors made their outlook so different?
- How did seeing the world through his (first-time) eyes make you see the world differently?
- How was Gardner’s love for Tulsa like God’s love for us?
- Do you long for someone to love you (and talk to you) the way Gardner loved (and talked to) Tulsa?
- What did you think about them having sex? Was it too soon? Why or why not? What do you think the Bible actually says about sex? Do you think the Bible’s perspective on sex still valid, or is it outdated?