If You Were the Last (2023) poster

If You Were the Last (2023)


USA. 2023.


Director – Kristian Mercado, Screenplay – Angela Bourassa, Producers – Dan Balgoyen, Jessamine Burgum, Kara Durrett, Jon Levin, Dennis Masel, Andrew Miano, Gabrielle Nadig & Britta Rowings & Sean Woods, Photography – Alex Disenhof, Music – Christopher Bear, Visual Effects – HIFI3D (Supervisors – Jonathan Dorfman & Szymon Weglarski), Stop Motion Animation – Acho Studio (Supervisor – Quique Rivera Rivera), Special Effects Supervisor – Guy Clayton, Production Design – Chris Stull. Production Company – Peacock/Storm City/Depth of Field.


Anthony Mackie (Adam Gherrity), Zoe Chao (Jane Kuang), Natalie Morales (Savannah Gerrity), Geoff Stults (Tom Wright), Missi Pyle (Megan Benson), Kaleka (Madame President)


Astronauts Adam Gherrity and Jane Kuang have been trapped aboard a NASA shuttle mission in orbit around Jupiter for three years. A third crewmember is dead and the shuttle’s controls are damaged, meaning they are unable to return home. They are well stocked on supplies and the environment is self-sustaining meaning that they could be there forever. Adam floats the idea that the two of them should have sex, just for mutual relief seeing as that they are the only ones out there and are unlikely to return home to their respective spouses. After some debating of the pros and cons of doing so, they surrender to their urges. Problems are then created when they get the shuttle’s navigation system repaired meaning that they can return home and will have to face their spouses.

Ever since the twin hits of Gravity (2013) and The Martian (2015), there has been a huge upsurge of films featuring realistic depictions of near space and the space mission. See other films such as Life (2017), The Space Between Us (2017), Ad Astra (2019), The Midnight Sky (2020) and I.S.S. (2023), as well as real-life based films such as Salyut 7 (2017) and First Man (2018). For a more detailed listing see NASA and the Space Program.

If You Were the Last is not one of those films. I mean, it easily could be – it is set around what happens to two people on a shuttle mission stranded in the far reaches of the Solar System. Instead what it really is is a Romantic Comedy that uses the shuttle and space setting as its basis. The nearest it gets to one of these other grounded space films is an appealing opening scene where Anthony Mackie and Zoe Chao debate the economics of the Matt Damon rescue mission in The Martian.

Astronauts Anthony Mackie and Zoe Chao in If You Were the Last (2023)
Astronauts Anthony Mackie and Zoe Chao

In reality, If You Were the Last goes almost the opposite direction to Gravity et al and makes zero effort to be scientifically realistic. The scenes of the shuttle orbiting the rings of Jupiter (!!!) are Claymation animated, while there are an absurd number of astral bodies visible in lit-up skies whenever people look out the shuttle window. The interior of the shuttle has standard gravity, while we are introduced to the two of them sitting in what looks like a regular living room lounge. The shuttle cockpit looks like the sort of set you would get for a school production with coloured cardboard for panels. Director Kristian Mercado makes his feature-length debut here after a decade of working in music video and it kind of shows.

The romance when the two characters start to connect has an amiable lightness. The script is often filled with the sort of cutsie dialogue and retorts that only exists in the realm of sitcoms and romantic comedies. Added to the Claymation effects and kid’s tv sets, the film lacks any kind of grounded believability. However, once the characters are brought back down to Earth in the latter half, the Claymation effects and much of the cutsie dialogue is dropped and the film allows the two to come together with a modest sincerity.

Trailer here

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