Directed by: #RaymondJEvans
Written by: Raymond J. Evans
Oh, the possibilities that present themselves when you meet someone new. Writer-director Raymond J. Evans puts forward a sweet yet calculable meet-cute between two strangers who bump into each other at a train station in the not too distant future. Bumping into one another, dropped between them is a pamphlet advertising commercial trips to Mars, a common interest for both and the seed is planted. Through a non-verbal narrative, Evans has the two characters, Ethan and Violet, communicate their interest in one another across a train platform, trying to share a phone number through hand signals.
While not sharing similar aesthetics, the script and themes of Mars reminded me of John Kahrs' Oscar-winning short Paperman. Two souls meeting by chance and then the quest to ensure it was not a fluke. Though with Mars, the fantastical nature of sentient paper planes manifesting destiny is replaced in favour of the dumb luck of every day. Evans' film is about the chance encounters and the chances we take from them, its the nature in which humanity goes forth. The direction of Jack Doherty and Abbey-Rose Leed initially keeps them as blank slates, but as their encounter progresses, Evans’ lets their walls fall as they both take the chance. The excitement and hope on both Leed and Doherty’s faces during the miming of numbers across the platform is endearing, so when timely conflict introduces itself, you can’t help but root for the two.
Even with science fiction elements, the film is grounded by Caitlin Burns’ production design having futuristic elements kept to a recognisable minimum. An animated brochure about space travel, the glimpse of a skyline of futuristic buildings; all of this merely set dressing against the familiar reality of smartphones, train stations, and hoping you’ll see that stranger again. Mars benefits from its production value, both simple and immersive with cinematographer Adam Lynch making the train station and the character’s separation effectively cinematic. It’s not a film about the future, Evans doesn’t want to show off any fancy cyberpunk ideas or dystopian terror; the trip to Mars is just another example to the film's theme of possibility.
Meeting someone new is always its own adventure and whether Ethan and Violet’s relationship is platonic, romantic, or even endures beyond that day Evans focuses on that first step towards something new. Mars remains uncomplicated, free of exposition or backstory, it connects through our common desire that there maybe someone out there, and that the limit of how far we can go is beyond the sky.
This is how we meet people, randomly in random places, possibility presenting itself.
Be sure to seize it. Too many don't.