Safe Spaces which was previous known as After Class, features Justin Long as a (Sometimes brought on by his own actions) overbearing and put upon class professor, through the simple actions in one class bring together a string of life changing events that affect everything and cause him to question himself and everyones decisions around him. He attempts to reconnect to his splintered family who all have various issues that connect through Joss (Justin Long) ability to accept the situations he directly or indirectly caused.
Safe Spaces is an interesting movie. Despite featuring a cast of characters who are quite simply for the most part abhorrent, from Long’s Joss, through to the distinctly unpleasant students who attend his class, in particular Michael Hsu Rosen’s Deacanthis film is very difficult to like. Billed as a comedy, abbot a dark one, this film is as far from that as it can be. It has it’s humorous moments (Mostly thanks to Longs ability with self depreciating humour), but at it’s core, it’s either social commentary OR a family drama and that’s where the films problems lie, it’s identity crisis.
However, that said, where the film excels is the cast and their performances which are absolutely superb. In particular, Justin Long turns in a career performance here, despite his characters awful flaws, the performance is truly absorbing. Also, Richard Schiff as his philandering father who is conflicted between his adult children and his life with his new overbearing wife and son is so beautifully done, he weirdly becomes the films soul. The scenes at the hospital with the families matriarch (Lynn Cohen, who is also brilliant in few scenes she has) as she lives out her last few days are deeply touching and a absolute class turn from Schiff.
The rest of the cast throughout are genuinely excellent as their paths all intersect with Joss. The film itself tends to drag out scenes and the film at times can feel laborious, especially when Long and Schiff aren’t around.
However as a drama, Safe Spaces is at times an uncomfortable watch especially if you sit on either side of Gen X/ Y debate, for which the crux of the story according to trailer at least revolves around. The previously mentioned unlike ability of the characters doesn’t help, but if you can overlook that, Safe Spaces is worth an hour and forty minutes of your time, if just for the performances alone.
Safe Spaces will be available on Digital Download from 7th December