Spoilers ahead. In a time when billionaires and celebrities (*ahem* Pete Davidson) are obsessed with the future, blasting off into space and trying to forge human life on other planets, To All The Boys I've Loved Before's Lana Condor is here to show us that there's nothing wrong with staying put and focusing on yourself. Even if that means staying down on Earth.
Moonshot, Condor's futuristic film that premieres on Binge on March 31, follows Sophie, a university student who’s navigating her own scientific aspirations with a long-distance relationship — as in very long-distance. Her boyfriend Calvin (Mason Gooding) and his family are currently living and working on a human-inhabited Mars. Back on Earth, Sophie meets Walt (Cole Sprouse), a love-sick barista with aspirations to travel to the formerly-desolate planet by any means necessary. The pair end up traveling to Mars together, and what follows is the classic semi-foes to lovers arc — just on a spaceship. But, the romance isn’t really the point. More than a classic romcom, the film’s real message is about prioritising yourself, and that’s a universal lesson that transcends galaxies.
When we first meet Sophie she’s dealing with a pretty relatable relationship predicament: Trying to make a LDR work. Eight years in, she is dealing with connection issues, literally. As she tells Walt during a pretty low moment, sobbing in the on-campus coffee shop he works in, her wifi has literally conked out from all the hours “trying to make it work.” Anyone who's ever been in a LDR knows how difficult it is at the best of times (without factoring in actual space travel), often forcing us to overcorrect in our pursuit of pleasing the other person because we’re so far away from them.
Initially, Sophie leaves Earth to do just that and bridge the physical divide. Extremely future-oriented, she’s focused on supporting her boyfriend in his endeavours — whether that’s scheduling FaceTime calls or flying to Mars — with the future-proof plan that at some point, it’ll be her turn. For his part, Walt, spontaneous-to-a-fault, has different motivations for space travel. He’s trying to find himself, and as he reveals to the audience in the first few moments of the film, exploration is the perfect way to find out where you fit in the world (or universe). As can be expected, Walt and Sophie, thrown together in her spaceship cabin after a chance encounter, end up falling for each other.
But as much as Moonshot might be about Walt and Sophie’s burgeoning relationship, and the trials and tribulations of young love gone intergalactic, from the onset of the film, it was important to Condor that — however the film ended — the emphasis wouldn’t be on the historically classic romcom trope of “girl meets boy, girl follow boys to the ends of the earth and puts boy’s ambitions and goals before her own.”
There were aspects of this trope in the film initially, with Sophie travelling to Mars to be with Calvin, but for Condor, it was important that this decision isn't just about Calvin. The filmmakers adds Sophie’s close relationship to Calvin’s family — and his mother specifically — as a plot point. “It wasn't just Sophie follows a boy across the universe. Instead, it's Sophie misses her family. That was super important for me because I don't ever want to create this narrative that young women should drop everything to be with a boy, because that's just not correct.”
Eventually, Sophie stops living for others to living in the moment for herself. It’s a moment that’s clear late in Moonshot, when Sophie and Walt go on a spacewalk on their way to Mars. Sophie — who entered the trip afraid of flying, overcoming the fear only to get to Calvin — makes the decision to let go of the platform attaching her to the spaceship; drifting into space (don’t worry, she’s still tethered). She’s not doing it for any motivation or anyone else, but simply for herself and simply to enjoy the view.
“In today's society, I think it's really easy to have this tunnel vision and not be in the present moment,” Condor says. “[Sophie’s] always kind of looking ahead, and then throughout the film, she becomes more present and she wants to go on more adventures. She wants to be more spontaneous and fun.”
Ultimately, that’s the true love story Moonshot gives us: Sophie’s acknowledgment that, as Walt tells her in the last few moments of the film, “[she’s] the adventure.” When Sophie makes the decision to return to Earth and focus on improving the planet, Walt chooses to follow her (a flipping of the classic trope, and one of several possible endings Condor and Sprouse filmed), but in the end, it wouldn’t have really mattered if Walt went back to Earth or stayed on Mars. The real win is Sophie finally chooses herself, her goals, and her happiness.
This idea of following your passions is what Condor hopes people, especially young women, take from the film. “Don't forge your life journey based on pleasing others, forge your life journey based on what you as the individual want for yourself,” Condor says.
And one final piece of advice? “I just don't think people should follow a boy. Period.”