An astronaut travels alone on an innovative mission into deep space, where time and space begin to warp, slowing time down for her. She’s also escaping a horrible loss back on Earth, and the isolation of space mirrors the isolation of her grief and sorrow.
Though she’s alone, she receives disjointed, sometimes delayed messages from her loving husband. Thanks to the elasticity of time, he ages before her very eyes in his messages, emphasizing just how much faster time moves on Earth — and how much the life she left behind is changing. As she faces the possibility of losing everything she loves entirely, she must confront the loss she left behind.
Director Andy Sowerby — along with writers Uriel Emil and Rachael Halliwell — have created a unique psychological portrait of love, grief and inner desolation. Framed by the time-bending astrophysics of the premise, the compact narrative meditates on just how much of love is based on sharing an experience as universal as time — and how much it endures, even when you no longer find yourself in the same literal time and place with them.
Though there is an arc and a beginning, middle and end, the story isn’t the driving force of the film, especially since much of the present-tense action is confined to the spaceship and one person.
But the film takes advantage of its constraints to create an unusually intimate, soul-bearing sci-fi vignette. The film bears many markers typical of the genre: gleaming, polished cinematography, minimalist set design, and genuinely breath-taking footage from NASA itself. But the focus is clearly on the tug and pull of the astronaut’s heart as she reckons with the emotional implications of space travel.
The science fiction isn’t incident to the emotional arc, though — in fact, it’s the inciting influence, forcing a gap between her and her husband back on Earth. As a result, the performances and screeplay are unusually unabashed and sincere for the genre — but are genuinely moving once the full impact of the astronaut’s travels are realized.
In a genre where the tech can often run away with the story at the expense of character and emotion, “The Jump” offers a resolutely emotional take, looking at how theoretical advances that could change the way we experience time will change the landscape of our inner lives. But even if travel into deep space never happens in our lifetimes or the next, it offers an exhortation to love and feel fully in the here and now — because you never know when the time you share with loved ones will come to an end.