Director: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine
In an interview last month, director Christopher Nolan stated that his latest movie Interstellar is "about human nature, what it means to be human."
It makes sense. All of the great science fiction auteurs -- Lang, Kubrick, Scott, among others -- were wise enough to weave terrestrial apprehensions and dreams among the distant stars. For all their alien life forms, inhospitable worlds, and cerebral scientific ideas, science fiction movies are a reflection of what is happening right here, on planet Earth. So too is Interstellar, which stands as the most ambitious and personal of Nolan's brilliant young career. It's also, in many ways, his most uneven.
Set in the near future, Interstellar tells the story of Earth on the brink of collapse. Devastated by blight and dust storms, the planet is slowly losing its food sources and its breathable atmosphere. One day, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a test pilot-cum-farmer, and his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) discover a set of coordinates via a gravitational anomaly in Murph's bed room. Soon Cooper is off to investigate, and, soon after, he's on a mission to save the human race far beyond the limits of the Milky Way galaxy.
|Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as humanity's last hope|
Informed, emotionally, by Nolan's own fatherhood, and inspired, visually and thematically, by Stanley Kubrick's seminal masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar is a movie of colossal size and scope. Nolan, a virtuoso behind the camera, moves back and forth between the silent, alien blackness of space and the verdant, dusty cornfields of Earth seamlessly, piecing together a story that, quite literally, transcends time and space. Penned by Nolan and his brother Jonathan, the story and script of Interstellar are overflowing with heady ideas about mankind's place in the universe, about sacrifice, about love. And it's here, ultimately, where the movie stumbles.
Equal parts astrophysics and metaphysics, Interstellar never quite manages to find harmony between high concept science fiction and believable human drama. When the movie leans on its degree in theoretical physics, it gets lost in technicalities; when it focuses on its characters, many of whom are woefully underdeveloped, it gets buried under sentimentalism. There are a handful of scenes where Nolan comes close to piecing together the two halves of his space opera. One of the best moments of the movie is a simple, quiet shot of Cooper breaking down while watching years of footage of his children back on Earth. It's here, and in other scenes, that Nolan captures something essentially human, and fulfills Interstellar's raison d'etre.