(2014 - Director: Christopher Nolan Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain)
I have problems with Interstellar. Several, actually. A few plot points, lack of character building, dialogue heavy with exposition, and a script that would, at times, expedite things simply to keep the plot moving. This is a film that’s easy to nitpick. It’s a hyped up intergalactic science fiction film - there are bound to be question marks. But by golly, Christopher Nolan just landed one of the most dynamic, emotional, and ambitious films I have ever seen.
Don't worry, no spoilers here. If you ever have the inkling to explore, wonder, and discover the unknown, this is the movie for you. If you’re a parent, this is the movie for you. If you’re a lover of science, this is the movie for you. The film is about our core human instincts to go further than those before us, to survive as a race, and to protect those we love most. The film feeds off of the juxtaposition of severing relationships while also battling to save them. It makes space exploration personal. It shows the magnitude of the risks and sacrifices these people take in the name of science. But as emotionally driving as this film is, it is still a very scientific film (and supposedly a very accurate one as well).
In true Nolan form, the film doesn’t revolve around one astronomical idea. It deals with a dozen, making it a non-stop puzzle to the very end. Which is also why the film whips by in a flash (despite having a running time of almost 3 hours). We jump from scene to scene to scene in such a rush. There’s a ticking clock on the world and no time to sit and marvel at the universe. The marvel is back home, sealed in the most powerful dimension at display in Interstellar, love. Do I wish this film were four hours long? Yes. I wish the beginning wasn’t so speedy. I wish we didn’t get almost all of our character traits through dialogue. But with a story as expansive as Interstellar, sometimes you gotta do what ya gotta do. And Jonathan and Christopher Nolan know how to write and direct good exposition. And let’s not forget about these performances that sold it. While actors are walking around on set throwing big words and explanations at each other, they are still engaging, and personal. Take Anne Hathaway. We hardly know anything about her character despite it being a main role. But with her limited screen time she makes it count. We connect because of her, not the screenplay. Without strong actors, some of this writing would be laughable. But this film is about the bigger picture, which is what I look for in good writing. A film’s idea and themes can always outweigh any gaps in the script. And Interstellar is gut punch after gut punch of brilliant ideas.
Interstellar is clearly not Christopher Nolan’s directorial calling card in terms of visual style. Yes, shooting on film proved to be gorgeous, the graphics are spectacular, the miniatures are amazing, and those robots are freaking awesome. But his shot selection and editing have been lacking for a few movies now. I think the best thing that happened was having Hoyte Van Hoytema behind the camera instead of Nolan’s main man, Wally Pfister. That being said, I think Nolan is continuing to prove himself as an actor’s director. McConaughey and Jessica Chastain in particular, are fantastic. We all know Matthew McConaughey is having the year of his life, and he was perfectly cast in Interstellar as an everyman. His character is oh so tragic, yet, completely admirable. Plus, there’s lots of crying shots so that’s like cheating.
Hans Zimmer knocked me flat with this music score and continues to create masterpieces with Nolan films. A wall of sound punishes you into knowing just how powerful these scenes are. It’s so loud that you strain to hear dialogue. I can’t recall ever seeing a movie with music as loud as Interstellar. It was a bold and strong choice.
As critical as some people are of Christopher Nolan, he’s really the only filmmaker out there proving that big budget movies can be original, powerful, and smart. Just because something has a big budget doesn’t mean it has to be dumbed down for the masses. He makes statement films. Films that have big ideas and are made for adults. How many blockbuster films in the past decade can you name that were targeted for adults? He’s an absolute rarity in the film world today.
There’s simply too much to write about. Interstellar is such an emotionally exhausting experience that it’s difficult to put my feelings into words. And that’s exactly how I know this is a great movie.