Lulu Astro is the young heir to an interstellar potato chip fortune and empire. She’s also deeply in love with a robot, sharing a sweet bond with her electronically-oriented beau.
But when her parents become aware of the romance, they banish her to a lonely satellite in space. But the fates — in the form of an asteroid hurtling through space — have another destiny in mind for the intrepid young woman.
Writer/director Pam Covington, along with producer Bongani Mlambo, offers up a sweet, stylish space-age romance, creating a joyful, quirky bon-bon of a cinematic experience that emphasizes the almost tactile pleasures of the medium, as well as a sheer sense of brio and fun.
The film is less interested in a narrative approach that emphasizes psychological depth or interiority. Instead, it fizzles along its doomed teen romance plot with blithe effervescence, lightly hitting its story beats with a hop, skip and a wink. It takes some time to build up Lulu’s world, circling back to through the chain of events that put her in space, but once the story moves forward, it picks up the pace with an energy as infectious as its pop music soundtrack.
The craftsmanship primarily delights in its visual flair and its unabashedly adorable pleasure in world-building. The world itself is like a candy box of fun moments, whether it’s in the imaginative, inventive props or the delightfully catchy song on Lulu’s radio. It all adds up to a particularly Pop Art take on outer space, with shades of Day-Glo mod and lo-fi retrofuturism.
There’s a sly knowingness and a winking sense of humor in the acting and approach, but it doesn’t have the detachment of joyless irony. And despite the retro panache in the visuals, it’s not necessarily nostalgic in the sense of a longing for a past.
The fun in “Space Flower” is instead straightforward and unapologetic, capturing the way that we exist in the present tense when we’re young, where feeling and action are closely aligned and our life’s meaning can be made not just in an accumulation of experience, but in the way that a song’s chorus can explain exactly how we feel. Like great pop music or being young, you don’t have to think too hard about the film — you just have to enjoy it fully and heartily during its ultimately fleeting evanescence.