The movie begins with a bed ridden and terminally ill man named Bill Norman as he has some final words of wisdom for his young son Joe. These words come as a shock to the boy as he learns from his father that the two are fugitives from another planet and he is the last hope for the survival of his people. No pressure or anything, right?
Joe (Rafe Spall) goes on to live a life of solitude preparing for the day that he will be able to return to his planet and help save his people from a tyrannical army. His father has left a digital copy of himself that can interact with Joe to answer questions and teach lessons that he wasn't able to give in person. One of the main things Joe is instructed to avoid is intimate contact with humans so he is not discovered by the spies that are constantly trying to track him down.
Of course, Joe inevitably falls in love and begins a relationship with the lovely Maria (Jenn Murray) although this eventually leads to him having to tell her his literally out of this world secret. Revealing this news actually goes a long way to inserting doubts about whether Joe's spectacular origin story is real or if his father made it all up to give him an escape mechanism knowing he would be left to fend for himself.
The most intriguing part about this movie is how you get to follow along with Joe during his journey of discovery, wonder, and doubt and you are also right there with him as he falls in love, has his heart broken, and begins to rebuild a life he no longer is sure he has actually been living. What really makes the movie work are the performances by Spall and Murray as they are both very likable and believable in their roles.
Is Joe really an interstellar refugee with a fantastic destiny awaiting him on some far off planet? Of course, I'm going to let you see for yourself when you go watch this movie and you really should see it when you get the chance. "Earthbound" is equal parts romantic comedy, coming of age story, and a mysterious tale that may or may not also be science fiction, but in the end, what you realize is that this is just a really good movie that you will remember for a long time.
Check out my other 2012 SIFF reviews HERE!