"Awkwardly beautiful," a phrase used by The Space Between Words writer/director Ian Stewart Fowler to describe the lovely Willa Handy, is actually the perfect phrase to describe Willa, a loving yet grief-stricken bookworm living in a cocoon five years after the death of her true love Sarah.
The truth is that the minute Lindsae Klein shows up on the big screen as Willa, you immediately love her.
I mean immediately.
It's understandable why housemates Edger (Michael J. Draper) and Janet (Beth Moesche) so obviously adore her. Still, Willa clings to her memories of Sarah as if her life depends on it.
On some level, it may.
With Edger and Janet and her own quirky yet loving family by her side, Willa lives her life seemingly moving on yet, as well can clearly see, not ever completely moving on.
The, one day, Arlo (Willow Finney) walks into her bookstore and into her life.
The Space Between Words is an entertaining, engaging romantic comedy with quirks that never feel overly quirky and dialogue that is makes you laugh with but never at these consistently enjoyable characters. This is the kind of film where you enjoy spending time with the characters, relating to but never owning their traumas and dramas and secretly hoping they discover the path to their own special brand of happiness.
Klein is an absolute gem as Willa, serving up a performance that is sweet, quirky, funny, and always emotionally honest. You can't help but want her happy because Klein makes her part of our lives and someone we absolutely root for along the way. As the key supporting players, Michael J. Draper and Beth Moesche are truly delightful and the kind of friends you want around you if everything ever falls apart. In a complex, layered role, Willow Finney hits a home run as Arlo. The rest of the ensemble cast is strong across the board.
Allen Griffen's lensing is soft and warm and intimate, while Marc Rose's subtle yet involving original music complements Fowler's richly human and authentic dialogue note for note. Indeed, in a film entitled The Space Between Words Fowler's directorial effort here leaves just the right amount of space between the words.
Everything here simply feels true.
While you've likely seen films similar to The Space Between Words, this is a film that warrants your attention and most certainly deserves to be seen. With a strong ensemble cast and natural dialogue, The Space Between Words is the kind of film that will linger in your heart and mind long after the closing credits have rolled.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic