“A roller-coaster ride; thrilling, beautiful and thoughtful, albeit a little on the illogical side at times.”
by Matt Allen
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, John Lithgow
Director(s): Christopher Nolan
Screenwriter(s): Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Running Time: 166 mins
He’s charted the dreamscape, he’s drawn back the magician’s curtain and he’s turned narrative theory entirely on its head (literally). Now, straight off the back of his uber-successful Dark Knight Trilogy, Christopher Nolan means to tame the final frontier in his sci-fi epic, Interstellar.
Due to “the excess of the 20th century” the Earth’s is in the throes of death and mankind is condemned to global starvation. Ex-NASA pilot Cooper (McConaughey) is torn form his family and enlisted to lead a team through a black hole in the hope of finding another planet that can sustain life.
As we would expect by now from a Nolan joint, visually Interstellar is gorgeous. The other worlds visited, while understated (we’re not talking Pandora level flora by any means) feel familiar and simultaneously alien thanks to 500ft waves and frozen clouds that shatter upon impact.
Most impressive however is the awe-inspiring design of the wormhole and the crew’s passage through it. In this modern age of sci-fi it is difficult to stand out in this area but Nolan’s team have produced an effect that looks like none other.
Infuriatingly, much of the majesty of the space scenes are lost to an over-use of a particular POV style shot that sees the camera fixed to the side of the spacecraft. Due to its incessant use, the majority of these sequences are obscured by the nose of the craft taking up two thirds of the screen as something beautiful flashes by in the corner.
McConaughey does what he does best which is charm the arse off everyone in the audience regardless of sexual orientation; delivering his lines with his signature southern drawl that manages to maintain its seduction even when he is made to choke out clunkers like “It’s not impossible, it’s necessary!”
At times, the script attempts to dazzle with well researched wormhole theory but rarely makes any concessions to the audience’s lack of knowledge in its subject. Often, expositional dialogue (and there is a lot of it) can become meaningless white-noise and it can take a little time to for the film to find its way back to the footpath.
The third act relies heavily on the dazzling effects of wormhole theory to distract us from the fact the entire plot rests on a twist which is flimsy at best and essentially justifies itself through the ‘power of love’. Consequently, there are moments when it feels a bit like looking at Tracy Emin’s bed; is it high art or is someone pissing on our heads and telling us it’s rain?
Having said that – via the relationship between Cooper (McConaughey) and his daughter Murph (Chastain) – Nolan has tapped into an emotional story that is at times heart breaking. Contiguous to this very personal thread is a complex and compelling film about man’s never ending bid for survival.
Even though there is the suspicion that he might have ended the film differently back in his pre-Inception days, there is no denying that the film is a roller-coaster ride; thrilling, beautiful and thoughtful, albeit a little on the illogical side at times.
Interstellar doesn’t quite break into the top-five Chris Nolan films but considering his back-catalogue that is hardly damning. A solid piece of film-making all round if not quite the ground breaker other would have you believe.