Fans of YA book-to-screen adaptations are in for a treat with this new entry in the genre. See You on Venus is next on the theatrical schedule before other adaptations like After Everything and Boot Camp are released later this year.
See You on Venus follows Mia (Virginia Gardner) and Kyle (Alex Aiono) on an adventure through Spain to find Mia’s birth mother. Growing up in the foster system, Mia doesn’t know much about her family but is determined to find her mother after thorough research has narrowed her search down to a list of ten names. Kyle is trying to overcome his grief after a tragic accident leaves his friend seriously injured, and his parents think a trip to Spain is just the trick. Though the two don’t know each other going into the trip, what they take away from their time together is worth watching.
While the movie has the beats we’ve come to expect of the genre, the backdrop in which they’re presented, and the message intended, elevate the material beyond a standard YA romance.
An Important Message for Young Audiences
On the surface, See You on Venus may appear as though it’s another YA romance film about teens falling in love in drastically unrealistic timeframes. However, the love story is ultimately rooted in the connection between two people that are at their loneliest, and not for traditional reasons like bullying or going to a new school.
Though Mia has always had a foster family and seems to be on good terms with her current foster mother and siblings, she knows next to nothing about her biological family. A necklace and a birth certificate are all she has to go off of. However, Mia does have a health complication that throws a wrench in her plans while also showing the audience why her mission is so important to her. It’s endearing to watch her not only take that journey but to have a change of heart when things don’t go as planned.
After a tragic car accident, Kyle is left in a state of mind that concerns his parents. It isn’t quite clear if he’s depressed, but he is certainly experiencing significant amounts of grief and guilt as the driver of the car. After he meets Mia in a concerning manner, she decides to take him under her wing and on a plane. He not only opens up to her, but has an important realization about the accident that changes how he wants to live his life.
In the end, both teens learn that they don’t have to let the actions of their past define them. Mia doesn’t have to be a victim of her circumstances and Kyle is allowed to move on from one of the hardest times in his life. It’s a good reminder for young people today that, despite the way you grow up or what you’re exposed to, you can still choose to lead a life in whatever direction you choose. When the themes of other YA films are considered, this one stands out among the rest.
A Beautiful Backdrop Adds Character
Many YA romance films take place within a school setting. Sometimes they even take place at popular summer activities, like the community pool or summer camp. See You on Venus instead takes its characters on a road trip, but not like what we’ve seen in other films of the genre.
A trip to Spain is the perfect setting for the message the movie is trying to impart to its audience. The romanticism of the setting, combined with the need to be pushed outside their comfort zones, creates an ideal environment for the characters to react under pressure. And react they do.
Emotional Performances From Gardner and Aiono
As audiences watch the two teens go through Spain, and even before the trip begins, both Kyle and Mia display a variety of emotions that add substance to a film that would otherwise be flat. This is due to the wonderful performances of both Gardner and Aiono.
Aiono’s moments of grief and hurt, especially early in the film, are visceral and full of feeling, showcasing Kyle’s emotions well and creating a strong foundation for the plot to build on. As the character’s feelings evolve with the plot, Aiono continues to maintain a strong performance, particularly in the movie’s third act.
Gardner continues to impress, showing a different side of her abilities in See You on Venus. She plays the always-positive Mia well, making the character’s optimism infectious, even in the darkest moments of the film. The actress uses her facial expressions to her advantage, portraying emotions at a surface level that deepen as her face changes with the dialogue, giving audiences a thoughtful experience.
See You on Venus hits theaters on July 21.