Monday, 20 June 2016


Approaching the Unknown boasts simple aspirations, and thus fails on simple terms. Short, straightforward and characterized by a scarcity of actual identifiable content (equally an indicator of the film's low budget as of its writer-director's creative ineptitude), this is a humdrum, mercifully forgettable piece that feels more like an ill-advised attempt at testing the water, rather than actually treading it. Mark Elijah Rosenberg's first film appears more calling card than fully-fledged feature, though even on such a basic mandate, Approaching the Unknown misses its already-modest targets. A story of an astronaut's journey to Mars, the first in the history of this film's vision of the future, is potentially ripe ground for rich psychological enquiry and/or artistic exploration. Rosenberg dabbles in each, but is inexplicably preoccupied with surely the least promising aspect of such a scenario: narrative development. One man in one room - largely the most of what this film constitutes (although a space station stop-off, flashbacks, and intermittent video calls to Earth interrupt the solitary atmosphere, to enervating effect), yet Rosenberg seems to consider this a prime opportunity to construct a proper story. It's nothing of the sort, and certainly not with the laziness displayed here: predictable plotting and horrible dialogue conspire to spoil every single scene, at least until they're dispensed with in the film's silly (though still predictably silly) final act. Redemption, no, but some amount of mitigation in Rosenberg's direction, at least the impetus to survive the scene and battle on into the next. He deploys his sense of space, of the effect of architectural design and our place therein, and in the larger context of the galaxy, to decent use, though it's nothing groundbreaking within this genre of filmmaking. Simply put, it's not enough to rescue this simple failure.