Film Review: Interstellar

It has been arguably, the most hotly anticipated film of 2014 and in a year that sees The Hobbit draw to a close, The Hunger Games start it’s final chapter and plenty of summer blockbuster fun with Transformers, X-Men and Planet of the Apes all expanding their already sizeable franchises that is no mean feat. It’s not hard to see why it’s gained such an impressive moniker, directed by Christopher Nolan, one of the biggest directors around, stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, both recent Academy Award winners and has a budget of over $150,000,000. Oh and it’s set in space!

Interstellar grabbed my the first time I saw the trailer. It just looked epic. It looked like one of those film that people will look back on and say “you had to see this on the big screen“. It struck me from that first, brief 2 minute encounter that this film was going to be a defining moment. And then I saw Nolan was directing and something sank slightly inside me. Now don’t get me wrong I like Nolan, I like his films, but I have always felt there is an arrogance to his film making. A sense to his style to the layers and folds he intertwines into any story that appears to almost say “I’m going to push this further than you can understand, simply because I can.” Inception being the prime example.

In the run up to it, I tried where possible to avoid all spoilers, I didn’t want to know the twists, turns and casting secrets that have been leaking into the cosmos as it’s release date drew closer and closer. I have, however, read a number of reviews explaining the production and history behind the creation of the film. How it started as Steven Spielberg’s film, not Nolan’s as well as the fact that originally, it was the collaboration of Nolan’s brother Jonathan and astro-physicist Kip Thorne which created the outline for the plot and the script. In fact, the generalisation of the background to the film seemed to suggest that Christopher Nolan had potentially diluted and changed large portions of the film to fit his own personal opinions rather than remain true to the source and the science.

And so, ignoring the person to my left drinking beer, eating popcorn, removing his shoes and sticking his feet up on the seat in front. And ignoring the “Dad” out for the night with his teenage sons drinking a can of cider and eating smuggled in from home popcorn out of a freezer bag, I settled down for 169minutes of confusion courtesy of the Nolan brothers.

Matthew McConaughey & Mackenzie Foy - Interstellar

The first thing I found though, is that Interstellar is not a film about space. This isn’t even a film about human survival. Interstellar is a film about love. And the bond between a father and daughter. It almost appeared to be a case that Nolan hasn’t dumb down the film but rather, completely change the tone and meaning of it. People theorised about worm holes, space travel and the saving of the human race and Nolan said “no”. Nolan simply, elegantly and with a power that is a joy to behold takes the strongest emotion in the human race and lays it bare. Shows how it spans any and all obstacles no matter how seemingly large. It’s not surprising that the majority of this film plays through the backdrop of a father (McConaughey) at pain of leaving his daughter while living directly opposite a daughter (Hathaway) who’s left her father.

This film really feels like it’s spilt into 3 distinct chapters: Earth, Space, Science. Each chapter holding your hand as it slowly and gently passes you on to the next. And so Interstellar, while closing in a way that will leave you as baffled and confused as anything Nolan has ever created before, is actually enjoyable. You can follow it, you can understand it and you can realise that it’s plot is playing a very simple second fiddle to the emotional story that is at it’s heart. What I found even more surprising though, is that after the slow trudge into mortality that Mr Turner provided 24 hours earlier off a shorter running time, Interstellar feels long but engaging. I was never bored, I never looked at my watch. I just knew throughout I was in a marathon not a sprint.

Christopher Nolan - Intersetllar

But that’s also my one big, big issue. The fact it takes you on what is ultimately an unnecessary marathon of a journey. The longer it goes on, the longer you can see the fractures and splits in it’s construction. It almost feels as though Christopher Nolan shoehorned his emotional tale into a scientific text book but does it with such strength and conviction that when the emotions have drawn to a fitting and worthy conclusion you are suddenly thrust into a unnatural, and literally beyond the scope of all but 0.01% of the population, science lesson that you don’t need or want. You could ditch the last 45 minutes and have a movie with as much strength emotionally but less of a strain mentally.

As with all Christopher Nolan films, Interstellar is already commanding theories, reviews and spoilers relating to plot holes, scientific errors and the true meaning and representation of large elements of the film, and I’m going to ignore them all. Firstly, because smarter people than me have already debated them to death; and secondly, because for me, Interstellar while spectacular was ultimately, too fractured and broken to hold up as anything more than a good but expensive tale.

7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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