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Space: The Longest Goodbye movie review (2024)

I also found it incredibly curious that Sukjin Han, a crew commander for one of the Mars simulations, was the only interviewee, be it study participant, scientific expert, astronaut, or family member—to concede that in order for a manned mission to Mars to actually succeed, there will need to be some self-sacrifice on the part of the crew members. As he says, once out there on the mission, there is no stopping the simulation. So for all the solving of these psychological issues, for all the selection criteria, why then is this concept not explored further in the doc?

Along with the various unexplored threads, the doc’s rote editing and under-lit interview casts a dour shadow over the entire experience, as if everything involved in space exploration is just depressing and/or terrifying. There is very little wonder here, or joy. Just problems to be solved in a cold and calculated manner. This grim mood, along with its lack of curiosity, somehow renders this whole film into being both merely a promotional piece of propaganda for NASA, while simultaneously warding off any kind of excitement or shared sense of human achievement for what a mission to Mars could mean.  

The film ends with Coleman sharing that if she could have stayed aboard the space station for another six months, she would have stayed “in a minute.” Mizrahy underscores her confession with overly serious music, as if this is the bleakest moment yet. As if this statement should have us worried for Coleman. As if being in space were an addiction. But, again, to Han’s point, isn’t that the kind of dedication you’d want from someone who has signed up for a three-year mission to Mars? 

Whatever it is that Mizrahy finds interesting about this subject remains frustratingly oblique, ultimately leaving “Space: The Longest Goodbye” a muddled bag of contradictions and underdeveloped threads and themes. Is this film supposed to be a warning? A celebration? A little of both? I sure as hell don’t know. 

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