Rupert Graves Online: Film & Television.
Native Spacer

2015 - Glasshouse Productions.

Director - Daniel Fitzsimmons.

Rupert Graves - Cane.
Review / Synopsis.

Imagine that you are one of two scientists sent on a space mission to study a distant planet that is emitting a mysterious signal. While on your journey, you begin to question what your society told you about who you are. You arrive at your destination and make contact with life forms there, but instead of regaining your previous sense of self, you realize that you have reached a point of no return.

Roughly speaking, that is what happens to Cane and Eva, the central characters of Native, an engrossing new science fiction movie. Though produced on a modest budget, this first feature-length film from director Daniel Fitzsimmons, co-written with Neil Atkinson, looks and sounds very good indeed on the big screen. It features excellent performances by Rupert Graves (Cane) and Ellie Kendrick (Eva), who are well supported by Leanne Best (Awan) and Joe Macaulay (Seth), among others. And it leaves its audience with plenty to ponder about what it means to be human.

Most of the action takes place aboard the space ship carrying Cane and Eva towards the unknown planet. In these confined quarters, tensions soon develop. When news of an unexpected death back home reaches Cane, he becomes depressed, and his actions grow more and more unpredictable.

Much of the central portion of the film charts Cane’s progress in riveting detail. Rupert Graves, always so memorable playing characters on the edge of madness (or over it), uses his wonderfully expressive face and voice to full effect, and captures Cane’s extreme mood swings vividly. We feel sympathy for Cane, yet see how his inner voyage of self-discovery risks jeopardizing the scientific mission.

We can understand Eva’s unease and anxiety as Cane’s erratic behavior increases, and Ellie Kendrick captures nicely the dilemma of the disciplined professional who suddenly feels her own safety at risk and the success of her work threatened.

After the ship lands and she has her first encounter with the inhabitants of the alien planet, Eva’s strict self-control crumbles abruptly. From here on, Kendrick shows us a far more vulnerable and conflicted side of Eva, to moving effect. The film ends as Eva and Cane move tentatively towards a new life.

Surprises and reversals play an important part in Native, so I’ve deliberately left the plot details vague. Many of these story elements are traditional sci-fi ones, though no less enjoyable for that. What gives Native its special quality, however, is the way that Fitzsimmons and Atkinson keep the action firmly focused on the human stakes.

As a result, we become increasingly invested in what happens to Cane and Eva, and in their emotional growth. Ultimately, this is what is so satisfying and special about the movie.

I hope that many more people get a chance to see Native, a rewarding first film with an outstanding performance by Rupert Graves.

Nick Deutsch.

©2016 Rupert Graves Online.

Native had its world premiere on February 13, 2016, at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, Massachusetts, as part of the 41st Boston Science Fiction Film Festival. Daniel Fitzsimmons subsequently won the Festival award for Best New Filmmaker.

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