There have been so many space movies in my lifetime – both fiction and documentary – that I was not sure anything about AWAY would hold my interest. However this is a great new vehicle for Hilary Swank. And the creative team has coupled the tensions of the flight itself with gripping stories of those left behind on earth, and the pairing makes for one exciting episode after another.
In AWAY, we meet Viivan Wu, Mark Ivanir, Ato Essandoh, and Ray Panthaki as the featured astronauts who along with Swank represent our diverse world. They are a terrific and empathetic group, and they each have episodes to shine. Just when you think we are falling into stereotypes – is the Asian lady a spy? – we are pulled back to genuinely interesting stories letting us know how these five very lovely and hard working individuals earned their spot on this trip.
And the pressures they face once on board are enormous, including blindness, lack of water, and other devices. It makes for good storytelling.
But the family left behind – an astronaut husband felled by a stroke, a 15 year old daughter exploring first love, a friend with a special needs child – which and handled with care, and give the story a great deal of texture that would be sorely missed if all we saw was life on the ship.
Josh Charles is a very thorny yet sympathetic husband to Swank. Talitha Eliana Bateman plays the daughter left behind. I am sure she will win an Oscar someday soon.
The writing is excellent, as is (generally) the direction. The show looks spectacular, both on earth and as it is in the heavens. I recommend AWAY highly.