Interstellar (2014) – Film Review
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine
by Jen Grimble
The master of dystopian landscapes, Christopher Nolan, returns to the big-screen with his most ambitious project yet. In The Dark Knight sadistic villains ran amok in a big city. Dreams merged with reality in Inception. Now space odyssey Interstellar introduces an unrecognisable world, where suffocating dust is destroying Earth’s food supply. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his family live on an almost deceased farm, constantly engulfed by dirt. In order to save mankind from inevitable starvation, Cooper must choose between his own family and finding a new planet for human life to populate.
Interstellar is primarily a science fiction flick acting as a modern social commentary. With a running time of almost three hours it is in every way an epic. Yet Interstellar has a rocky start and an even rockier ending. The opening plods slowly to reach its point, offering diversions into needless scenes. The film improves towards the middle, when it metaphorically splits itself in two. One half is an emotional exploration of humanity, with a father-daughter relationship at its heart. Nolan shows himself to be unashamedly poignant (perhaps proving a point to his critics). The other half excels in awe-inspiring cinematography and elaborate CGI, making for imagery unlike any other (yes, even Gravity).
“Mixes a modern cocktail of science fiction and romance”
Without the former element, Interstellar would collapse. It is the human compassion that draws us in and keeps us there. Where Inception was dominant in fantastical imagery, using emotions as an after-thought, Interstellar does the opposite. At its best, the film showcases indescribable visuals cemented with ideas of sacrifice and selflessness. In its mediocre moments, half-hearted acting (even from Oscar-winners) leaves some scenes flat. Jessica Chastain’s performance is one worth mentioning, however. Her overtly realistic representation of Murph, a woman truly on the edge, is award-worthy. At its worst, Interstellar’s jargon-fuelled finale leaps from melodramatic to utterly absurd, making us question its purpose. Nolan leaves us confused and unattached, whilst somehow, keeping us hooked. With Interstellar, Nolan mixes a modern cocktail of science fiction and romance, whilst layering greed against sentiment, with relative success.
As Nolan’s most profound and ambitious film to date, Interstellar is also his most flawed. With an incomparable mise-en-scène, however, Nolan provides an undiluted observation of human behaviour. On the surface this is a movie about outer space, but underneath its glossy coating we have a family-centred core, exploring love and the complexities of age. With Interstellar, Christopher Nolan maintains his excellent reputation, but does not quite reach the dizzy heights of his previous masterpieces.