Monday, November 10, 2014

Interstellar Review

(Disclaimer: this review contains spoilers)

Christopher Nolan started off as an indie filmmaker (Following, Memento) and has carved his own niche since then with his thematic recursions in his films. With every next film, its scale and his ambition grew. He has garnered such a fanbase that release of his new film is a mega event in the pop-culture which is responsible for all the hype that surmounts the film (Interstellar is already at 11th position in the IMDb's all-time Top 250 list!). This does make him count among the best working directors in the Hollywood- the Hollywood that survives on comic books and disaster movies. With Interstellar just after finishing his Batman trilogy, Nolan has now checked off both the categories.

Talking about his ever-growing ambitions, he has now reached the space- that part of space which is beyond existence and only a part of theoretical imagination... the blackholes, wormholes and all. But does he make it believable? Well, I can only say that when I found myself reading those theories of physics after watching the film, my interest in reading about them got diminished because I felt like "Haven't I seen it all already?". This is how Nolan's cinema has always been. His creation of the world is so staggering that it makes it unbelievable that it was just a film at the end. And he does that with no use of CG, green screens or 3D. This is where Interstellar achieves more than Alfonso CuarĂ³n’s Gravity. Though I did wish Nolan had made us spent more time there, make us feel like we've been there rather than just seen it. And this is where Gravity wins- it made me float in the space with no rush to tell a story... the story came inherently with the character, with an arc that of an arthouse film. Nolan, here, has the basic 'life at earth is in danger' plot for which he puts a believable reason to be up there in the space ("We are not meant to save the earth, we are meant to leave it"), but with his characters and their stories.

Back at earth lives two set of humans- one who believes in the reason to leave it and the other who wants to save it from the Dust Bowl ("The world does not need any more engineers. We didn't run out of television screens, we ran out of food")- which the film simplistically deduce into engineers and farmers (And what a masterstroke in making this situation- and ultimately, the film's premise to start off- more dense by making the latter group to believe that the Apollo mission to the moon was just a political propaganda and not an actual mission). This conflict was sufficient enough for the film to propel but the writers create unnecessary contrivances further: the respective lies that Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and Dr. Mann (Matt Damon's surprise role) reveal. Though the latter one turns out to be symbolic when Mann and Cooper (McConaughey) childishly gets into a fistfight at a planet and the sequence is intercut with the fight between Cooper's engineer daughter Murph (Jessica Chastain, at that point) and his farmer son Tom (Casey Affleck) back at earth who is of the belief that his father will come back. And how sweetly ironical it was for Murph (Mackenzie Foy, then) who was always with her father in all his scientific endeavors to not let him go to the space initially when it was time to explore further. And when he leaves, we get a terrific scene in which his car is speeding away from home and we hear the countdown of the rocket launch, and he checks if his daughter is hiding under the blanket next to his seat in the car because last time when he drove off, she was there.

This is Nolan's most emotional and least confusing film yet. He makes us feel more than think this time. But he doesn't completely manage to balance it. The scientific part sometimes feels forced in: a space scientist explains to the other in the spaceship how a wormhole works when they are just about to reach there- on a paper with pen! Seriously? You want me to believe that? I get it that it's done for the economy of storytelling and to explain the audience at the same time, but we've already invested almost 3 hours, why not take some more time and do it neatly? And also the convenience the writers took in telling the story that how it's always Cooper the chosen one to come across and solve the entire puzzle is intelligently brushed under the carpet of Murphy's law.

Nolan takes help of science to explain what love is. That exchange of  dialogue between Cooper and Amelia (Anne Hathaway) is quite an engaging one. The film leaves us on the same context of that exchange... Amelia is on a planet discovered by some Dr. Edmund, whom she loves, with the slightest possibility that she will find him. And maybe Amelia and Edmund will be the Adam and Eve for that planet. Perhaps, the most settling end a Christopher Nolan film has ever had. But I wish Nolan slips into that tesseract near blackhole and sees his past there and asks himself to STAY.

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