It’s often hard for even the casual movie fan to separate the circumstances surrounding a movie from the movie itself. Sometimes, it’s an impossible task. It may seem odd to bring this up in reference to “Interstellar”, a movie that has been generally successful and uncontroversial thus far in its run. Here, however, the circumstances relating to this movie’s release are of a specific variety, something I will refer to as the “hype-factor.” This hype-factor is the idea that, prior to a movie’s release, viewers have notions of how well-rendered or realized a movie will be, and these notions ultimately come to affect the viewer’s overall reaction to the film. Interstellar suffered tremendously from this hype-factor, with many hailing it as the next “2001: A Space Odyssey” before the film was even released. It’s for this reason that many were disappointed by what the film actually turned out to be, which is an entertaining and thought-provoking, but seriously flawed, movie.

The story is one of mankind’s survival, as Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper and a team of scientists made up of anne Hathaway, Wes  Bentley    and David Gyasi leave Earth in search of a new home for the human race. The plot moves in many directions from here and, without spoiling anything, becomes incredibly complex as it weaves existential ideas into discussions of physics and relativity. Largely, the film’s first two acts are its easiest ones to follow, and even they can sometimes challange the audience’s mind. The third act, by contrast, is one which requires the viewer to have an investment in the story in order for them to accept it as even remotely plausible.

McConaughey’s performance here is in line with much of the actor’s recent work, in that it seems to be genuinely felt. Though I had problems with some of the generalities affecting his character, McConaughey has undoubtedly delivered another superb performance, adding some heart to Cooper’s cold philosophizing. Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, who plays Cooper’s adult daughter Murph, are also both excellent. Hathaway, who is charged with selling several of the film’s most clunky pieces of dialogue, manages to do so in a way that seems real and urgent, and Chastain finds a human strain and deep sadness among some of the vagueness that plagues her character’s writing.

In addition to being marketed as a modern space opera akin to 2001, the film also seems to be discussed as one which is incredibly personal for Nolan. It’s a film about love, ultimately, one which wonders at its existence, and what this existence means for characters who can perceive it without ever truly understanding it. This careful meditation is a thoughtful one, but it is also one which the film states explicitly several times.

It makes me wish for a movie infinitely more subtle than the one we got. I want a film where we care about the characters enough to understand the way their human bonds play a role in this story, with its enormous scope, as opposed to one which tells me how important they are.

Unfortunately, the film we got is somewhat contrived and simplistic. Though Nolan dives deep and brings some amazing visuals to the story, it seems as though the film he made does not have the breathtaking humanity that it should. Instead, we get a film that is undoubtedly ambitious,but comes with numerous faults not only in the story itself, but also in the world of the film’s existential themes. It’s hard, however, to fault Nolan too heavily for this. He’s clearly reaching for something, and even if he cannot quite grab it, I have a great deal of admiration in him for trying. As for “Interstellar”, you should still see it even though it’s flawed. It’s wildly entertaining, somewhat thought-provoking, and will ultimately prove essential to understanding Nolan’s career as a whole. See it as a building block, and hope that Nolan’s next film can improve upon it.

Allen is a member of

the class of 2017.



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