9/11 movie 'The Space Between' review: Melissa Leo lifted the quality of a sincere, sentimental drama

The Space Between, which aired commercial-free Sunday night on the USA network, distinguished itself from the rest of the 9/11 tenth-anniversary programming by being a fictional movie, starring Melissa Leo (The Fighter). The film, written and directed by Travis Fine, told the story of Montine McLeod (Leo), a hard-edged flight attendant who finds herself the sudden, unwilling guardian of a young boy on her when their plane bound for Los Angeles is grounded on Sept. 11, 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

The boy, 10 year-old Omar Hassan (Anthony Keyvan), is a Pakistani-American on his way to a Muslim boarding school in L.A. When the flight is interrupted, Montine and Omar try to get back to New York City, by bus and then by car, getting to know each other and forming an uneasy alliance. Montine is grumpy and bitter — a discipline problem on her job, a heavy drinker off — while Omar is a highly intelligent young man trying to adhere to the tenets of his faith as taught him by his father, a single parent who had a restaurant job in one of the World Trade Center towers.

The Space Between was honorably sentimental, tilted toward the poignance of a boy who assumes, watching TV footage as he makes his way cross-country, that his father is dead. For her part, Mondine feels the burden of this boy as she struggled with her unhappy past — a dead husband, killed in the Oklahoma city bombing, and a dying mother have left her trying to numb her life with alcohol. As might be expected in a TV-movie drama, the woman and the boy find common ground in their grief.

Weeds‘ Hunter Parrish, October Road‘s Brad William Henke, Perfect Couples‘ Kyle Bornheimer, and Lie To Me‘s Kelli Williams all popped up in small roles in a production that was clearly a low-budget labor of love.

A theatrical film the debuted at the Tribeca Film Fstival, The Space Between probably received the best showcase it could in a TV broadcast. It skirted a Hallmark Hall of Fame mawkishness thanks to the forthright performance by Leo and the clear-eyed, never-cute one by Keyvan.

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (46 total) Add your comment
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  • Jennie

    How can I find out who did the music for “the space between” in particular the music Leo was listening to on the bus.

    • Ruth Brooker

      The way it changed the US the most is that the children that witnessed it have never seen a time of Peace for our country. Attempt to imagine your outlook on life if you thought just maybe life could end tomorrow. I do not write this to be morbid. I write it to help us understand a generation that must look beyond a materialistic life to a brighter more substantial future of caring and sharing all we have because truly all we have is Love. Namaste

    • Rose

      I want to know who did the music also, especially the song Leo was listening too on the bus.

      • bambi

        yea same i liekd that song but cant find it for the life of me

      • Doc

        Damon Aaron “Roughshod”

    • Rachel

      I really enjoyed the movie. The actors did a fantastic job and the music was great. I would like to have a copy of the movie myself.

  • jasmine

    i didn’t get a chance to see this yet, but I myself am a Pakistani – American and I am proud that movies like this are getting the right recognition. 10 yrs ago my religion was hijacked by terrorists.
    we need to stop believing the media fully and start researching and finding out the truth to educate ourselves

    • Amanda

      I completely agree with you. I don’t practice any particular religion and I’m not from the United States, I’m just a white Canadian. However, I wish there was more programming that captured this aspect of 9/11. I think a lot of people forget that there were a lot of Muslim victims as well. An entire race or religion should not be condemned because of Islamic extremists. I’d like to learn more about that side of the 9/11 tragedy. How it affected those people in the wake of the terrorist attack. Those who were Muslim who lost loved ones but are at the same time being hated for what happened at the same time.

      • Dee

        Unfortunately nothing will change. Hate just continues. Just look at the typical racism that has never gone away.

      • Ruth Brooker

        The way it changed the US the most is that the children that witnessed it have never seen a time of Peace for our country. Attempt to imagine your outlook on life if you thought just maybe life could end tomorrow. I do not write this to be morbid. I write it to help us understand a generation that must look beyond the materialistic life most US citizens have given themselves to a brighter more substantial future of caring and sharing all we have because truly all we have is Love. Namaste

  • Sean D

    I’ve never heard of this before, but it sounds sort of great. Nice and subtle, gentle. Leo is often a gift to troubled films.

    • Kaiwit

      HI Liz,We will be closed for a short prieod in december this year to relocate to our new storeforont within ANU excahnge. We will most klikely reopen mid January. More updates will be posted here when we get confirmation of dates from the developers.We most certainly still do stock falgon’s of beachworth apple juice Hope to see you soon,JoeManager.

  • Suzanne

    Just saw it. Very touching but sad. More “indie” film than Hallmark. Good of USA to show commercial-free.

  • Tennessee3501

    This is an excellent movie that will be enjoyed by the whole family. Although Melissa Leo does drop one or two “F” bombs (in keeping with the tradition of her Oscar acceptance speech), they are carefully “bleeped” and you will never know that they are there. The movie will be well received by liberals, conservatives, independents and members of the Islamic Faith. Melissa Leo and Anthony Keyvan give outstanding performances that shouls get both considered for awards! This showing of this film should become a tradition on every Seotember 11 anniversary.

    • Jan

      Absolutely agree. This was a great movie that showed a side of 9-11 that hasn’t been publicized.

    • Jorge

      Creating a complex and ecnaund set of expectations (in other words, doing a good job writing and then implementing the script) can have disastrous results, of course, when you don’t manage to carry through with an equally satisfactory resolution. I’m not a script writer (I’ve mostly written reviews — yes, I’m one of those!), but it seems to me that this must be an incredible pressure for a writer: the pressure not only to create this wonderful story over an hour or an hour and 15 minutes, but then to somehow resolve it in an equally wonderful way. When it’s done well, it’s one of the greatest experiences that I can think of (I think of the countless films where I’ve just been floored at the end, by how wonderfully the whole thing lands up: I recall the ending to The Third Man, for example, or Chinatown).But when the resolution fails to achieve the heights of the narrative development that spawned it . . . well, that’s pretty much devastating, isn’t it?

  • sleep 45

    Loved seeing all the Young Riders alums together again…Melissa Leo, Brett Cullen, Don Franklin, Kelli Williams and of course written and directed by Travis Fine.

  • Linda

    Very touching movie. The images of the towers always brings an ache to my heart though. I’d like to know about the song playing in the car and at the end also. Was it Ray Lamontagne?

  • Trista

    Also – pretty cool that Leo who is now an Oscar Winners still has time to work with former co-stars. I still remember her performance with Travis Fine on Young Riders.

  • John T

    Maybe Leo will get an Emmy to go with her well-deserved Oscar.

  • Ruth Brooker

    Will this title be released for purchase and if so, when?
    Thank you

  • Valorie West

    Melissa Leo is one of the best actresses I have seen in a long time! I hope to see her in other movies. Please tell her no one could have played that part better! Anthony Keyvan was excellent also, what a star he will be as he grows up! One of the best movies I’ve seen! Thanks so much!

    • Dedy

      1. Name three of your favorite mvieos. ~how to lose a guy in 10 days, finding nemo, jingle all the way2. Now pick your all-time favorite. It can only be one! ~how to lose a guy in 10 days3. What has been the stupidest idea for a movie that came out? ~the green hornet and thor4. Do you go to the movie theater a lot or would you rather watch it on DVD at home? -dvd at home5. Whate28099s your favorite genre? (Horror, drama, foreign, comedy, etc.) comedy and action6. What is your least favorite movie? -the green hornet7. Which movie do you know all the words to? good burger8. Which book do you wish would get turned into a movie? heaven is for real9. Do you have Netflix? no but i want it10. Name the best movie youe28099ve seen in the last six months. dolphin tale11. How often do you watch mvieos? pretty often probably every other day12. Have you ever seen a movie you thought you would hate but ended up loving? yes13. Everyone has a favorite Disney movie. Whate28099s yours? finding nemo or up14. What is the most unrealistic movie youe28099ve ever seen? the old batman movie haha15. Which movie makes you laugh the most? good burger or what about bob16. What movie have you seen the most? good burger17. Which is your favorite old movie? idk18. What was the last movie you saw in theaters? -dolphin tale19. Best movie snack: popcorn, candy, or stuff you sneak in? stuff i sneak in20. Which do you think is the worst movie of this summer? -21. Who are is your favorite actress and actor? -racel mcadams and ryan reynolds22. Which movie do you think deserves an Oscar nomination so far this year? dolphin tale23. Have you ever wanted to be an actress? yes24. Do you have an idea for an awesome movie? yes a few25. Scariest movie youe28099ve ever seen? i dont watch many scary mvieos but probably the uninvited

  • Norma

    I liked the song that was playing at the end of the movie, I believe it was called” Lay It Down” so beutiful. If you can tell me who sings that song?

    • Doc

      Damon Aaron “Lay Me Down”

  • A. Regan

    We were out of town when the movie aired. Anxious to see it. When will it be shown again?

    • Sadia

      三24 The so-called culture derest. It is easy as a pile for me to understand what the film represent, but hard for nonnative. Maybe they only consider it as a film which can easily arouse their enthusiasm. I want to have the password to your encrypted post, can i ?

  • Bernadette

    Found the movie to be very poignant and touching. I loved the soundtrack, and would like to know the artists included in the songs. If you would be so kind as to let me know, I would like to purchase these songs. Thank you.

  • Clif

    Is there any way to watch the movie online?

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