Letterboxd (4.5/5), Imdb.com (9/10)

What would you do if you encountered problems while serving as a member of the first mission to Mars? You could probably contact experts for advice on technical issues easily enough, but what about personal or interpersonal issues? That might not be as easy, especially if a psychiatrist wasn’t part of the crew. So what is one to do? In this inventively fictional what-if offering, space agency officials assemble and isolate an earth-based team of counterparts whose personalities, interests and character are virtually identical to those of their Red Planet doppelgangers. The purpose? To see how these terrestrial surrogates respond to the kinds of challenges that could potentially affect their Martian peers as a means for developing civil solutions and helpful coping mechanisms when these situations arise. Good intentions aside, however, things don’t quite work out as anticipated, both for the astronauts and their earthbound doubles. And that premise provides the basis for this brilliant French Canadian sci-fi comedy-drama whose wry humor (some of it quite dark) is simultaneously hilarious, insightful and metaphorical, not to mention astoundingly original, with some of the best writing I’ve seen in ages. The film’s intriguing foundation and telling narrative speak volumes to us on multiple levels (some of which have nothing at all to do with space travel; one could think of this as a fusion of the TV series Moon Base 8 and a Stanley Milgram behavioral experiment). All of this is backed up by the picture’s fine performances, superb score and outstanding art direction/production design, along with more than a few cinematic homages to such otherworldly classics as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). It’s no wonder that this release captured an impressive 10 Canadian Screen Award nominations, including a win for its stunningly gorgeous cinematography. It’s so heartening to see a film these days that’s highly intelligent, raucously funny, supremely thoughtful and eminently entertaining. Writer-director Stéphane Lafleur’s fifth feature outing may not have received much fanfare thus far, but this truly is a picture well worth seeing (thankfully it’s available for streaming on multiple platforms). This one is sure to put you into orbit.