Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Wes Bentley
Written by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Running Time: 169 mins
Release date: 7th November 2014
Christopher Nolan has become one of those directors you genuinely look forward to watching his latest. He is certainly up there with Spielberg, Scorsese and, dare I say it, Cameron. So Interstellar, Nolan’s first film since The Dark Knight Rises, should be a triumph, a masterpiece. The first two hours of this epic space adventure is just that. Shame the final act is so self-indulgent that it left me feeling cold.
Earth is dying and the time for humans to survive on the planet is minimal. Farmer and former pilot Cooper, a single father with a daughter who he dotes on, discovers a secret message in her bedroom where she believes a ghost is speaking to her. Working out the books dropping from her shelf spell out co ordinance, Cooper heads off to find out where they will lead him. He comes across a hidden base run by NASA and Dr Bland, who has a solution: sending astronauts into space to find a replacement planet by entering a black hole to the far reaches of the universe. Cooper, promising his daughter that he would return, heads off, not knowing what is out there or whether he would actually get back home.
The film is split into three distinctive acts: the small-scale human drama where we are introduced to the characters and their plight, then the adventures in space, in which the small crew have to find fellow astronauts who have been sent off years before to find planets beyond the worm hole and the final act: the head-scratching, nonsensical science lesson in which time and space and gravity are explained but still delivers something that, for us simple lay people, meant nothing at all and you ended up wondering what on earth (or space) is going on.
I have been excited about this film ever since seeing the first trailer over a year ago, because I know that in Christopher Nolan’s hands, I’d be safe. I’d probably be confused, infuriated, frustrated but ultimately satisfied. Here, however, he dropped me right at the important part which meant that for two hours I was sold, I was there: hook, line and sinker. The human elements of the film I loved. The fact that Cooper, having promised to be home for his daughter, knowing it’s a promise he may not be able to keep. I loved the space adventure as the team are jettison around the stars looking for a new chance. The final part went flying right over my head.
You know that a film is in trouble when you must have it explained to you by someone who loves science. Nolan obviously has a passion for time and space but forgets that a large section of the audience haven’t a clue and among the wordy script and exposition, he still leaves most lost. Some may argue that it was clear, laid out in black and white but I still sat bemused as the plot went from gripping to utter bonkers, like watching some bizarre remake of Alice In Wonderland. When I go to the cinema, I want to be entertained. If I want a science lesson, I’d go back to school.
It also seems to wanted this to be 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are so many “references” that you start to wonder if this is an original work, instead a clever rip-off, from talking computers, monolith-shaped objects, flashy space travel and even large organ chords that sound just a little like the ones used in Kurbrick’s classic. It probably didn’t help, either, that there were scene very reminiscent to last year’s space flick, Gravity.
The performances are, as you would expect, superb. Matthew McConaughey once again proving he is one of the screen’s best. As Cooper he gives us a man with plenty of heart and compassion as well as a man with the world resting on his shoulders. Anne Hathaway has become the queen of heart-felt characters and here, as Dr Bland Jr, the woman who joins the mission and who admits her own failings is something we can all relate to, is just delicious. Once again, however, Jessica Chastain, who, in my mind, was robbed of the Oscar after her performance in Zero Dark Thirty, should definitely get a nod for her role of Murphy, Cooper’s daughter.
At just short of three hours, it doesn’t feel a chore. It does grip. It is emotional. The production values are high, the set pieces impressive, the performances spot on. This has all the markings of a 5 star movie. Yet we’ve come to expect something really special from Christopher Nolan and he fails right at the finishing line. Even though this is his most disappointing film to date, it manages to be better than most directors best work.