Christopher Nolan is undeniably one of the most ambitious, forward thinking filmmakers working in the industry today. Known for writing and directing mind-bending films such as Inception and Memento, his thought-provoking style pushes the boundaries of cinema, challenging audiences to unravel his narratives. His latest picture is sci-fi epic ‘Interstellar’ and it is perhaps his most daring yet. Set on a decaying planet Earth running low on natural resources, Matthew McConaughey takes the leading role as former NASA pilot Cooper and is tasked with the almighty responsibility of finding a new home planet for the human race. After much deliberation with his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) and persuasion from Professor Brand (Michael Caine), he leaves his family behind for the greater good, taking off with biologist Amelia (Anne Hathaway) for a journey through space and time.
Part family drama, part wormhole wonder, the film attempts to combine sentimentality with science and doesn’t always get it right. The heartiness appears to be leftover from Spielberg’s early involvement with the project, and to me, this distorts Nolan’s vision. Earth’s dusty surface is presented effectively in the opening third and the imagining of a near apocalyptic environment is intelligently put together. However, it is not until we are taken to the unknown that the stunning visuals really take hold, accompanied by a typically brilliant score by regular Nolan composer Hans Zimmer. The music waivers from subtle to astounding, and its absence creates an unnerving atmosphere in moments of terrifying silence. The plot gets complicated to say the least as it develops, and the scope of the story-telling is unmatched, but if you don’t get too caught up in the technicalities, it is a powerful cinematic experience.
Aside from his aesthetic flair as a filmmaker, Christopher Nolan and his co-writing brother Jonathan are usually experts at getting the very best from their cast. This time around, I think the concept is so expansive that the actors become little more than passengers in an idea. McConaughey who has been enjoying a career-transforming run of form is swallowed up by the scenery and despite the distance travelled by Coop, the acting never really gets off the ground. Father/daughter relationships are at the core of the proceedings throughout but the complexities of Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway’s characters are never really delved into in full, causing their performances to lack impact also, as if they’re there purely to enjoy the ride. A few more big-time names filter through as the time-space continuum becomes convoluted, and Jessica Chastain steps up with what is the most moving turn of the lot.
‘Interstellar’ didn’t wow me quite as much as last year’s space drama Gravity and didn’t entertain me in the way his previous works have but by no means does this make it a failure. It is, in fact, an exciting leap in the right direction for cinema as a whole, and illustrates the increasing capabilities of the medium. A fine but flawed example of movie escapism, we can allow ourselves to see the world and beyond through the eyes of a true pioneer of modern filmmaking, breaking through dimensions and the barriers of the art form.
See the trailer: