Cinema retains certain panache when it delves into the concept of space, usually portraying man’s most ambitious achievement with a side of jeopardy. The wonder of the unfathomable depths of interstellar travel is always coupled with the ominous fear of the unknown. Last year’s Gravity was presented as a technological bound in the world of filmmaking with a premise revolving around a woman struggling to survive in the infinite blackness of space. Christopher Nolan’s foray into the final frontier with Interstellar brings that very same feeling.
Nolan begins his story on a dying earth, where dust storms ravage the populace and the only remaining food source is corn. Mathew McConaughey plays Cooper, a pilot turned farmer struggling to make ends meet for his family. An opportunity presents itself for interstellar travel, where Cooper is approached with the task of piloting a vessel through a wormhole in order to find a habitable world to save the human race.
McConaughey carries the film on his shoulders entirely. Cooper is a driven and intelligent character that we care about and would be nothing without McConaughey giving it his all every time he’s on screen.
It’s worth mentioning that Nolan introduces a very realistic and terrifying future. He doesn’t throw us too far ahead where what’s being presented doesn’t match the reality of what’s happening today. Visually, the film’s ambition shines through — with Nolan’s visionary camerawork allowing each shot to translate beautifully on screen. Melancholic shots of dust settling in bookshelves and houses are effective enough simply because we can see it happening. This is juxtaposed with the sweeping, gorgeous vistas of space. Nolan presents his technologically impressive, visually stunning film with the same amount of ambition as space travel itself. It’s safe to say that Interstellar is a masterpiece – almost.
I never felt an emotional connection with any of the other characters as I did with Cooper. While it’s noted that the father-daughter story is the film’s forefront, you don’t feel as connected with the rest of the cast.
The film suffers from a distinct unevenness — especially as it draws to a close. At times during the film, Nolan would be executing a set piece that’s engaging, exciting, your pulse is racing and then it cuts back to Earth. This happens several times over the course of the film with Nolan interrupting a tense and riveting scene in space with a public service announcement on how shitty Earth is. The sequences that happen on Earth aren’t nearly as engaging as space anyway, which raises the question: why make the cut?
Nolan’s Interstellar stands on it’s own as a (slightly flawed) work of art. It’s entertaining, it’s intelligent and it’s heartfelt. It’s Nolan at his best and we can’t ask for anything more.