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'Seat 25' (2017)

No, it's not SF, but a minimalistic, melodramatic portrait of Faye's life.

You decide to go to Mars forever
and you forget to tell your husband?

I’m open to all kinds of films. It doesn’t have to be a blockbuster with star actors. I love indies as well. And already several times I was lucky enough to see a gem of a movie. A film that’s not well-known to the general public. But to be honest, Seat 25 is a film that has tested the limits of my stamina. Coincidentally, I saw The Martian a few days ago on some television channel. Seat 25 is about a young woman named Faye Banks (Madeleine Cooke) who has won a golden ticket—just like Charlie in a very different movie—except not to immerse herself in a stream of chocolate in the factory of Willy Wonka, but to become a member of a team that booked a one-way trip to Mars.

So, are you looking forward to an exciting SF with the red planet as the central theme? Then you can skip this one. Apart from some red-tinted images of a sandy, rocky landscape, there’s not much interplanetary to see. Sometimes it seems as if Faye is living on another planet. But don’t expect similar action sequences like Matt Damon did in The Martian. Or scenes with a large rocket. Or an overcrowded control center. The only thing that just kind of stuck with me is that it all seemed terribly boring and everything seemed so insignificant. Really everything radiates dullness. Faye is boring. Her family is boring. Her clothes look dull. Her work is boring. The colleagues are boring. Faye’s life, in itself, is boring. As well as Faye, Mr. Popescu (Adnan Rashad) was dead tired of all the dullness in his life. The conversations are boring. The interior is boring (Yeak, those symmetrically placed pillows). You’d fly to Mars for less. The only neighbor Peter (Stephen Lloyd) and his daughter Flossie breach this overall dullness.

It’s not only the monotony of her life Faye wants to escape from. She also seems to have a degree in science. You can easily deduce this from the fact that her husband Jim (Nicholas Banks) persuades her to take a job at a certain moment, even though it has nothing to do with science. ("I know it’s not in science, but it’s a job. We need the money.") That Jim-guy really is an intrusive and bossy fellow. And probably this trip to Mars is an unfulfilled wish of her's. Seems quite obvious to me when you look at her box full of high-tech scientific material: A space helmet made of aluminum foil, a few pictures frames with space photographs, and a pile of VHS tapes about planets from our galaxy. Probably these are remnants of demonstration material that she used for her thesis.

Maybe it all sounds a bit sarcastic and it might be better to simply skip this film. It’s indeed all rather slow and boring. The whole story is infused with melancholy and sadness. So you won’t feel happy or excited about this movie. And yet, it did fascinate me in one way or another. Forget about the science part—about a Mars trip—and you’ll discover an interesting story about how an individual is trapped in a daily routine. A life Faye isn’t really satisfied with, and maybe she expected more of life. Hence her candidacy for seat number 25.

Madeleine Cooke isn’t only a fun and attractive appearance. She plays the role of the timid and introverted Faye in a perfect way. Even though it sometimes seems as if Faye is feeble-minded and spends more time looking at the sky. Or reads the discharge procedure for the umpteenth time in an apathetic way. Or has lunch on that bench in the park in an upright sitting posture while staring into space. The whole time I was asking myself two things.

  1. Will she make the decision and leave everything behind to go on an adventure?
  2. And when is she going to tell she’s the chosen one?

No, Seat 25 is not high quality cinema. And no, it really isn’t SF. It’s rather melodramatic—even though it sometimes comes across as humorous (but that has more to do with English correctness and stiffness). The film focuses more on the relations between everyday people. Faye has the choice between going to Mars on her own or staying in her current family situation. For her, the first option will be more satisfactory. Now she leads an ignored, misunderstood, and numb life, with a man who has more eye for his own career—therefore, is punctual and precise in terms of work. It’s a man who decides on his own that it’s time for them to have children. Faye’s sister also lives in her own pretentious world, and finally, even her parents treat her as a stranger. Not really a rosy life. There was only one thing I doubted at first, and that was whether the whole thing about flying to Mars wasn’t something that only existed in Faye’s imagination.

My Rating: 6/10
More reviews here.