Film Review: 'Interstellar'
Opens: 7 November 2014 (UK)
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan, Lynda Obst
A Christopher Nolan venture is usually less of a film and more of an event. Be it Memento, the Dark Knight trilogy, Inception et al, most of his works win critical hosannas and are regarded as path breaking cult classics.
His Interstellar too is ambitious, visionary and grand, and will have its share of ardent admirers, yet for all its brilliance, at a near three hour running time, it becomes a bit of slog despite having so much working in its favour.
Interstellar takes place in the distant future, where mankind, on the brink of extinction, launches a mission into the cosmos in search of other inhabitable planets. Among the voyagers are Cooper (McConaughey), a widowed engineer, scientists Amelia Brand (Hathaway), Romilly (Gyasi), Doyle (Bentley) and a robot TARS (voiced by Irwin – charming as ever), who venture out in search of a wormhole at the end of the galaxy, only to make startling discoveries which will inevitably alter the course of humanity forever.
Interstellar starts off well and the first half of the film especially, is riveting, but around the half way mark it really begins to gnaw at your patience. The seeping terrains of foreign worlds and dazzling special effects will leave you in awe at all the spectacle, but the film’s problem lies not in its visuals, but in its narrative, particularly in the last half hour, where Nolan seems unsure on whether to keep its plot shrouded in scientific babble (the deafening background score, however brilliant it is, does little in helping us understand it all), or whether to succumb to age old clichés of how human emotion and matters of the heart tower above all else – a scene in which Hathaway’s usually stoic character breaks into a sermon about love, had a large chunk of the audience in splits, which clearly wasn’t the intent of the diatribe in the first place.
That said though, the cast is unanimously brilliant, be it McConaughey on whom the film naturally revolves around, or the film’s two central female leads, Hathaway and Chastain who lend the required gravitas to their strong but at times convoluted parts. Hathaway, especially, is in fine form up to but excluding the climax when her character’s motives become confusing and bogged down by unnecessary sentimentality.
For all its flaws though, there’s plenty of trademark Nolan here to marvel at both visually and intellectually. There's wit and banter in abundance especially in the film’s most crucial and nail biting scenes, and it raises quite a few pertinent questions that will no doubt encourage debate. After a point though, Nolan loses you and incessantly drags out scenes which he could have easily done away with. The space shots too all look very pretty, but there are a lot of times when not a lot really happens, and a surprise superstar cameo which is supposed to stir things up a little comes much too late in the film for us to care, and in essence, falls flat.
Still, fans of the director’s previous works will inevitably enjoy Interstellar. It’s visually splendid with an expert cast to boot, but the film as a whole works only in parts thanks to a plot that goes nowhere fast and a few twists you can see coming a mile off. I’m going with three stars.