If You Were the Last
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Adrift in space for three years after a NASA mission went wrong, two astronauts must decide if they want to spend their final days as friends or as something more. After one of them suggests they start sleeping together as a way to relieve stress, a debate blooms.
The central astronaut pair is brought to life by Zoe Chao, who stars in The Afterparty and Strangers, and Anthony Mackie, aka Falcon in the Captain America films.
If You Were the Last’s premise might seem like the makings of a claustrophobic, morbid story, but it’s decidedly not. The film radiates warmth and chemistry, with a lighthearted sense of humor that carries through.
Adam and Jane’s spaceship looks more like the Big Brother house than anything out of Apollo 13, with plenty of space and resources to make a workable, if limited, life. There’s great fun in watching the creative ways they pass the hours—learning dances, giving each other tattoos, and talking to Benson’s skeleton, their fellow crewmate who didn’t survive the “crazies.” There’s a pop-up book feel to the visuals, with vibrant colors and papier-mâché textures. Their small, colorful, world provides the perfect backdrop for a love story, with the right dose of existential dread to keep things interesting.
The central pair’s dynamic is a classic rom-com push and pull between Jane’s pragmatism and Adam’s emotionality, with When Harry Met Sally-style crackling banter. Students of the rom-com genre will enjoy the tightly structured story. It hits all the beats that you want from the genre—an unlikely meet cute, a slow burn of chemistry, and a rewarding payoff.
It also basks in a love of cinema, with references to The Martian and Casablanca, and the awareness that this story rests somewhere in between the two. Adam and Jane’s far-out situation becomes oddly relatable, or at least a worthy metaphor for the strange ways we connect as people. It asks the question, without the distractions of the outside world, what does connection mean? And provides a sweet answer in an intergalactic love story, the beautiful swell of space floating behind.
Though it’s squarely a rom-com, it offers a lot for newcomers to the genre and makes efficient use of its 92-minute runtime. Sci-fi lovers will have their interests piqued by the setting but will stay for an undeniable sweetness that never crosses over to cheesy.
A perfect at-home date night watch with wide appeal. Watch it by yourself and it might make you feel lonely, and maybe that’s okay.
Couples who spent time in quarantine together might see shades of themselves in this cloistered, isolated love story.