Continuing on with the filmography of the master that is Christopher Nolan, this Monday I shall be reviewing one of his more divisive movies- INTERSTELLAR.
The story of Interstellar is a much simpler one than the majority of Nolan movies (at least on the surface it is!) Matthew McConaughey plays a former test pilot who is recruited by Michael Caine and his daughter, Anne Hathaway, who are members of the remnants of NASA on a dying Earth. Their mission is to follow in the footsteps of previous missions that had Matt Damon at the helm in attempt to save Earth or begin a new one. McConaughey must leave his family behind and deal with the emotional turmoil of that separation. If you haven’t seen it, the plot follows an time-warping, sci-fi adventure with black holes and worm holes and relativity.
The science behind it, for the most part, is incredibly accurate from my understanding and I think this lends a lot of credibility to the events; the film feels more believable because of it. However, the nature of the film disguises that this is also an emotional tale- almost certainly Nolan’s most emotive movie. This is one area where Interstellar has taken some criticism as Nolan films have sometimes been described as a little emotionless and Interstellar apparently takes it too far. I disagree with both statements, but in particular with the latter because the emotional turmoil that the characters are put through would be incredibly painful. Maybe some moments are a little overstated but I think it is understandable. Try venturing to a different galaxy, away from your family, and then see how annoyed you are when someone says you are exaggerating how you feel! To me, this is a powerful script and speaks a lot on a political, scientific and human level.
I don’t think this film is perfect though (a Nolan movie I don’t think is perfect – shock!) There is a reason I mentioned Matt Damon in the cast list before and it isn’t because he gets particularly high billing for the movie. My major criticism lies with the casting of Damon- not the performance given by him, but the choice to cast him itself and the subsequent handling of his character. Damon doesn’t appear for at least the first hour and a half but his character is name dropped at least a dozen times. He is not seen, only heard of. And when he suddenly appears, I personally found that it took me right out of the film. The A-list casting suddenly made me realise that this character was much more vital than first thought and I instantly knew that more was afoot. To me, the character needed to be seen on screen first. Perhaps in a video message early on which explained the mission. The alternative, which I much prefer, would be that Matt Damon wasn’t cast at all. Someone with equal talent and less renown being chosen would make the character’s arc more shocking and therefore more powerful.
So, I have ranted a lot about one casting choice and not said how much I actually do love this movie. The performances, the visuals, the sound design, the Hans Zimmer score (maybe my favourite Zimmer score actually) all are exceptional. The film can get a little exposition-heavy and a little dense at times but they are often explained like a BBC science documentary (it’s like Brian Cox wrote it- that’s Brian Cox the astrophysicist, not the actor) so we follow along pretty well.
I actually enjoy the ending which is another part that has received criticism. It is unscientific to our current understanding but it fits the theme of love particularly well. I somehow predicted it only a few minutes in but I think that was more of a lucky guess rather than poor writing. And, in all honesty, I cannot stop thinking about that one docking scene. It is one of Nolan’s finest 5 minutes of directing and is certainly a top five moment from his films. In fact, I’m off to watch that scene again. So, in the meantime, if you have seen it, come join me and if you haven’t… Get watching!