And now for a dramatic recreation of my face in the hours following Interstellar…
“Interstellar” is Christopher Nolan’s latest mind bending cinematic opera to hit theaters, this time with Matthew McConaughey playing a corn farmer whose past may make him the perfect candidate for a task that just might mean everything to the human race. and that’s about as much as I can say without spoiling the many movements and ideas Nolan has waiting for you in this 3 hour transformative film. Honestly the less you know about the plot of this one, the more you will just get to enjoy the ride, the mind sinking, deep thinking, seat clinching, tear wrenching, ride. And what a ride it is.
Let’s start with the incredible breadth of the story. I mean, this movie goes places, literally and figuratively, in a way that embody the definition of the word epic. You can’t help but feel the grandeur of the story, the settings, and the philosophy that is on display. And yet at the same time Nolan has this way of still keeping the central character development simple, meaning for everything this movie tries to be, at the center of it it’s just a movie about a dad and his daughter and their evolving relationship. It’s an amazing magic trick to hide the simplest story structure amongst all the pomp and circumstance and gives the audience something to hold onto while the intellectual world is spinning around them. I mean, these are some big ideas here, about time and space, and love, and family, and humanity, and survival. Yet even as your mind revs up to ponder the complexities, it finds rest in connecting to that simple child parent dynamic that we’ve all experienced in one way or another. Also the performances are really good here, with well known, talented actors hopping in here and there to take part in the proceedings, as McConaughey and Anne Hathaway take the lead. I should also mention that the technical aspects of the flick from score to effects to design all seemed to do their job quite nicely never distracting from the experience happening on the screen. I’ll give Nolan this, he plays for keeps, and there’s something wonderful about seeing someone really go for it like this with the ambition to really go after it.
But here’s the thing about ambition, sometimes it’s reach exceeds its grasp. For all the depth and philosophical meanderings here, I’m not actually sure it really holds together. For the first half or so I think it all works, but then it’s as if the movie just stops trying to really make sense so it can better serve the story. I decision I totally understand from a storytelling perspective, but from an intellectual one, it becomes quite distracting. Who knows, maybe I’m just not smart enough to get it, but I thought there were some really glaring contradictions and conundrums that started to cause the movie in many ways to collapse under it’s own weight like a philosophical black hole of ideas. And yet it seemed like a black hole I was enjoying every second of getting sucked into even as it messed with my head.
At the end of the day, Interstellar is a grand tale. Beautiful, breathtaking visuals, amazing performances, and a simple story of family and survival, make it worth seeing even if the philosophical and theoretical ambition doesn’t quite add up. I say it finds its home as an A-