In Arati Kadav‘s Cargo, now streaming on Netflix, Vikrant Massey and Shweta Tripathi play demons who help dead people transition into their next lives. Set largely inside a spaceship, the film marries sci-fi concepts with an aching loneliness and the desire for human connection. If you liked it, here are five more emotional science-fiction films we recommend:
Ad Astra (2019)
James Gray’s Ad Astra has pirate shootouts on the moon and feral chimps in space, but is also a powerful reminder of how neglect and abandonment can shape a child’s life and haunt them no matter how far they run. Astronaut Roy McBride (a brooding Brad Pitt) travels to Neptune after hearing that the father he thought dead 16 years ago might still be alive. The path to catharsis is long and lonely.
What is it about daddy issues and space that make them such a potent combination? In Christopher Nolan‘s Interstellar, former NASA astronaut Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) sets out to find other potentially habitable worlds after dust storms ravage the Earth. His mission comes at great personal cost — he leaves behind two young children who, owing to time dilation, grow into adults without seeing him again. A scene in which Cooper watches 23 years’ worth of missed memories, including his son’s graduation, father’s death and the birth of his grandson, will you make you weep.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
As painful as clinging to the memories of a former lover seems, erasing them is even more so, as this Michel Gondry film illustrates. After their relationship disintegrates, Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) and Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet) each undergo procedures to wipe the past, but like the couple in Cargo, discover that two people who are meant to be will always find their way back to each other. Will all their issues will be resolved? No, but they’re still worth fighting for.
The shy, introverted Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with the voice in his ear – Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), his AI-powered virtual assistant. This intangible connection helps Twombly work through the very human, painful and messy emotions of his impending divorce. Spike Jonze’s film is tender, funny and a gentle ode to the art of letting go.
If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things? asks linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) in Arrival. The Denis Villeneuve film cuts back and forth between her two major life events – the illness and eventual death of her daughter, and the arrival of an alien species on Earth. The point at which they intersect, and the choice Banks must now make, locates hope in an utterly hopeless, heartbreaking situation.