Film Review: Interstellar (2014)

 Interstellar How to begin with Christopher Nolan’s eagerly anticipated Interstellar?Visually the film is stunning. From the golden lighting of the southern states to the inky black depths of space, Intestellar is pleasing to the eye. Nolan’s depiction of a black hole is mesmerising, especially given that this is the most scientifically accurate model scientists have to date. It is because of Interstellar that several new papers are currently being written regarding our knowledge of space. Nolan also includes a gripping view from a spaceship in which Earth looks to be the size of a dinner plate - and another view of a trip down a wormhole. Both place the small crew on the spaceship very, very far away from a dying Earth.The film begins with the acknowledgement that the earth is slowly but determinedly reaching the point where it will no longer be able to sustain human life. Nolan depicts the dying Earth through the ever-increasing swathes of dust storms that force farmers to hide together in their homes away from the dangerous dust. Ex-pilot Matthew McConaughey laments that humans are bound to this desolate Earth and are no longer attempting to explore other planets. When his daughter again mentions the ghost in her room is trying to communicate, together as father and daughter, they discover co-ordinates to a hidden NASA facility. A charming NASA scientist, Michael Caine, approaches his old friend McConaughey and convinces him to leave Earth to visit up to three planets Caine has found discovered that may be able to sustain life. McConaughey accepts and the crew on the spaceship is made up of four astronauts, notably including Caine’s daughter, NASA extraordinaire Anne Hathaway.McConaughey, by accepting this interstellar mission, chose to leave his daughter and son behind. He promised he would return but he faces a more pressing issue: time. In Interstellar Nolan crafts a timeline so intricate that one day after the film’s release avid viewers had created time maps and put them online for viewers to access before or after the film. As in Memento and Inception it is Nolan’s manipulation of the timeline, and the viewer’s attempt to untangle the plot, that is the film’s most fascinating feature.When McConaughey visits the first planet, every hour spent on its surface translates to the passing of roughly six years for those still on the spaceship and those back on Earth. McConaughey then faces the daunting prospect of not just missing out on his daughter’s childhood, but perhaps missing her whole life, of returning to Earth when she has perhaps been dead for several years. Between fuel resources and the passing of those on the spaceship and those on Earth, the mission becomes fraught with complex questions about how to proceed to help the greatest number of people. The first plan had always been to find a suitable planet so those left on Earth could relocate; however, as Hathaway reveals, repopulation using stored fertilised eggs on the ship may be the only viable option. This raises a difficult question concerning Michael Caine’s character. He chooses to send his only daughter on this mission knowing it may be the case that she has to become a surrogate mother many times over on a new planet; acting as a kind of troublesome Eve.Meanwhile back on Earth McConaughey’s daughter has never forgiven her father for leaving. In a surprising turn of events - amidst a story focusing on space exploration, loneliness and isolation, manipulation and fear - the story’s crux rests upon the strength of the relationship between father and daughter. At first I found this troubling, as if the complexities of the plot were being too easily shoehorned into resolving a strained relationship that the audience only sees properly at the beginning of the film. However, it works - namely because of McConaughey’s superb acting which in one unmentionable scene involving communications sent from Earth from his children, reveals just how much his character has sacrificed in the name of both saving Earth and following an old dream. It is McConaughey’s performance throughout Interstellar that rightly centres the father-daughter relationship at the heart of the film.With Interstellar Nolan has crafted a film frighteningly scientifically accurate in some places, and with an unescapable atmosphere of doom, yet championing a quest not for exploration but for reunion. McConaughey’s need to reunite with his daughter becomes the driving force of the mission for him and it does not feel misplaced. Instead I rooted for McConaughey attempting to manipulate the unforgiving nothingness of space to find a way back to his daughter even if that resulted in the detriment of the mission. And why did I do that? Nolan had reminded me the whole mission, the stunning visuals, the thrilling ride, had been to save those on Earth, but it was McConaughey that portrayed the raw need to see his daughter again. His performance carried more weight than the success of the mission, and I left the film feeling spaced due to the mind-boggling visuals, but somehow reassured that even though space, as Nolan had depicted it, is vast and unforgiving, it is the perhaps weakness or perhaps strength of human love that means you have no choice but to venture into the unknown. Nolan has crafted a film deeply interested in the possibilities of space travel and yet simultaneously grounded, due to the complex and clearly well written character relationships; this is a film I cannot wait to see again.  Cassice Last  Image Credit: