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Interstellar - Review

Interstellar

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CHRISTOPHER Nolan’s Interstellar is a mind-blowing film in so many ways – conceptually bold, emotionally and scientifically intricate, and visually stunning. Yet it’s also capable of blowing your mind in bad ways, including the fear that, after almost three hours, it doesn’t make much sense or that it sacrifices its early bravery for something more safe and Hollywood.

Conceived in part homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar also borrows from other well-worn science fiction genre staples, yet still somehow manages to feel fresh, exciting and innovative on its own merits. Some of its concepts are dazzling, while Nolan also drops in some visual moments to excite the senses.

It also manages to be as intimate as it is epic, neatly balancing its grander, more risky elements with those that can resonate with anyone.

Set sometime in the future, the film finds Earth in a state of disrepair and entering its final years, with food in particularly short supply. Enter, ex-pilot and widower Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a dedicated single father and corn famer, who is asked by a NASA scientist (Michael Caine) to lead a mission through a wormhole in the solar system to search for new planets that could sustain human life and save our species.

Against the wishes of his adolescent daughter, Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), Cooper heads off into space, promising her that he will return. But once Cooper and his team (including Anne Hathaway and David Gyasi) enter the different dimensions of alternative universes, complete with different rules concerning the passing of time, all bets are off.

Murphy, meanwhile, begins to plot her own course towards an unlikely reunion with her father, and one that could be just as pivotal in saving mankind.

In truth, the less you know about Interstellar going in, the more you are likely to be absorbed by it. But no matter what you may ultimately think about the outcome, there’s plenty to admire along the way.

The human story at the centre of the film is particularly engrossing, not least because of the tremendously endearing everyman qualities that McConaughey invests his Cooper. This year’s Oscar winner is on towering form once again, anchoring the film with a performance that effortlessly showcases the mixture of emotions his character must endure, from loss and regret to fear and adventure. It’s a quietly heroic role, delivered without the need for show-stopping, and one that allows Interstellar to pack a hefty emotional punch.

There’s good work, too, from both Foy and Jessica Chastain as Murphy (in various ages), as well as by regular Nolan stalwart Caine. Gyasi, meanwhile, also impresses as another of the space crew – the guy who explains a lot of the film’s science in layman’s terms, but someone who also offers some of the more honest emotions.

Nolan, meanwhile, deserves credit for continuing to show that blockbusters can offer something different from the norm. As he did with Inception and even with the Dark Knight franchise, he allows films to operate on the biggest scale but never loses sight of the small things, or cinema’s ability to test the intelligence of its audiences.

Hence, you do have to pay attention and might not understand everything but Interstellar excites more because of this. You cannot take everything for granted for long periods, just as you know you will be seeing something special. Set pieces to savour here include a sequence involving giant waves and huge glacial landscapes that take the breath away. If you can catch them in IMAX, all the better.

If there are flaws, then Nolan has earned the right to be forgiven for them. So while Interstellar does flirt with feelings of pretentiousness (particularly when discussing the idea of the power of love) and includes a slightly hokey third act which may well polarise audiences, it still demands to be seen and deserves a lot of credit.

Nolan, meanwhile, merely enhances his reputation as the most exciting blockbuster director of his generation… someone not afraid to explore the possibilities of what mainstream cinema can offer, while setting new benchmarks for those following in his wake.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 169mins
UK Release Date: November 7, 2014