SXSW Film Review: Prospect

Classic gold fever drama heads to space

Four years ago, at this very festival, Chris Caldwell and Zeek Earl premiered a short film about a father-daughter prospecting duo on the edges of known space. Now the filmmakers return to SXSW with Prospect, a feature-length adaptation that takes their original concept to new heights.

In their final voyage to a remote moon, Cee (Sofie Thatcher) and her father (Jay Duplass) are contracted by mercenaries to harvest an impressive collection of rare minerals. Their assignment falls apart, however, when they encounter charmingly loquacious and dangerous freelancer Ezra (Narcos’ Pedro Pascal), who recognizes a get-rich-quick opportunity when he sees it. To survive against the dangers of the forest, Cee and Ezra must form an uneasy alliance and put their lives in each others’ hands.

Few films offer a vision of the future as unique as the one in Prospect, and much of this is owed to the production design. From its bulky costumes to its analog technology, it strongly recalls the failed promises of classic 1970s science fiction. But lurking beneath this retro-futurism is a more conventional Western narrative. If Cee and Ezra hope to survive, they must face off against an eclectic group of settlers and hired guns, making Prospect a dynamic blend of unfamiliar and familiar genre tropes.

Thatcher, in what is sure to be her breakout role, creates a sympathetic character that is all the more likable for her competence under pressure. Pascal, meanwhile, offers his signature mixture of danger and charm in equal amounts. Anchored by these two performances, Prospect is free to run wild with some of its bigger ideas and play with a grimy vision of the future you won’t soon shake. This is the way world-building should be done.


Prospect

Visions

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
The Future of Food Is the Future of You
The Future of Food Is the Future of You
Find out exactly what that means in the next few days – for free

Wayne Alan Brenner, March 17, 2021

Films and Shows at SXSW by Austin Residents and Veterans
Films and Shows at SXSW by Austin Residents and Veterans
Fill your schedule with ATX @ SXSW

March 5, 2021

More by Matthew Monagle
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
Go ninja, go ninja, GO! Wait, wrong toy line …

July 30, 2021

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Back to the puzzles in this teen-friendly Saw-alike

July 23, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW Film 2018, SXSW 2018, SXSW, Prospect

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle