In these pandemic-driven times, the idea of inhabiting another planet sounds more and more appealing. And with space travel now becoming somewhat generally accessible – sure, you have to be filthy rich, but it’s still a step up from it being exclusive to astronauts only – it stands to reason that such a concept could be normalised. Such is the narrative in Two Tickets to Mars, an ambitious 17-minute short film from filmmaker Kavita Parekh.
Centred around young Asia (Emily Sullivan), Two Tickets… explores one’s existential crisis in facing the very real possibility of death and the notion of separation. Longing to love and survive, Asia, living in a doom-impending New York, believes she has found her literal ticket out of an apocalypse by securing two tickets to Mars (insert pointing Leonardo DiCaprio “when you realise the title” meme) where an exclusive colony is being constructed.
Her intent is to take Chester (Devin O’Brien), her former lover, on the journey with her, believing that living with her forever is a more appealing fate than what the world has coming to it. Chester, ever the nihilist though, doesn’t see much substance in the meaning of life however, confessing he’s happy to die on Earth, leaving Asia angry and confused.
That want and need to feel validated in your own feelings versus staying true to your own beliefs and not being emotionally guilted into betraying your truth is ultimately what Parekh explores, with Asia and Chester debating on pessimism and the metaphysical throughout. It’s quite impressive that in such a limited time allowance, Parekh manages such a deep, broad topic. What easily could have been a lighter, more reflective “end of the world” set-up, Two Tickets… embraces the posing of questions we may not want to ask or, in Chester’s case, answer.
Though Asia and Chester may not always present themselves as likeable people, their willingness to forego sugar-coating their situation helps Two Tickets… in being a more relatable project for its audience. A deeper dive and an extension on what transpires would benefit Parekh’s narrative, and in showcasing her potential with such limited resources, hopefully her end of the world tale is the beginning of a storytelling career.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Two Tickets to Mars is screening as part of this year’s Austin Film Festival, which is being presented both in-person and virtually between October 21st and 28th, 2021. For more information head to the official Austin Film Festival page.