Country: USA, UK
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure
Director: Christopher Nolan
Music: Hans Zimmer
Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema
By no means I am a scientific geek, my days of tackling with science has been fortuitously truncated years ago, so putting aside all these heatedly discussed astrological concepts, to be specific, wormhole, black hole, tesseract, the fifth dimension and time travel relativity (thanks to the enormous contribution of Dr. Kip Thorne), INTERSTELLAR is a potent analogue of Nolan’s previous stunning visual and conceptual extravaganza INCEPTION (2010), which looks deep into the bizarre inner activity within one’s dream realm, but this time, Nolan’s scope is going the opposite direction, extended outwardly to the unknown universe and based on a more perceivable future of the earth’s imminent doom (we are all the culprits of various degrees in this scenario), it is not just an awe-inspiring outer-space odyssey, in its dual storyline, the life on earth is phenomenally linked by human’s primitive force – love.
I didn’t watch the film on an IMAX screen, which in Cairo is quite scarce, and Cairo is a big city, but I have no gripe to watch it on a normal 2D screen since it is fantastically overwhelming just the same. Before the space voyage, ex-pilot-turned-farmer Cooper (McConaughey) is staying with his two children, Murph, short for Murphy (Foy) and Tom (Chalamet) with his father-in-law Donald (Lithgow), while their world is experiencing extreme weather catastrophe such as sand storms, the father-and-daughter bond between Cooper and Murph has been intensified through their similar attitude towards science and the supernatural episodes happened in Murph’s room, where she claims there is a “phantom” using gravity to send her messages, which is such an ingenuous yet inconspicuous maneuver to foreshadows the mind-blowing twist in the black hole, and unthinkably it becomes the key to save all the humanity on earth.
The emotional crunches are prepped with incredible performance, again, McConaughey is unbelievably transformative as the loving father who decide to reunite with Murph and keep his promises against all odds, his supreme reaction shots when reading messages for the past 23 years from Tom and Murph on earth are his Oscar-baiting moments, it seems the McConaussance has not been slowing down and one Oscar statue seems not enough at all.
Mackenzie Foy plays the young Murph, Chastain is her adult version and Burstyn gives the final happy ending as the senior one. Chastain is a relentless fireball, formidably interprets the most arcane part (the telepathic revelation of who is the phantom?) which sometimes even challenges its own credibility, it is not a showy role for Chastain’s calibre, nevertheless she is excellent in it, take one example, the minute facial nuances when Prof. Brand (Michael Caine) telling her the disturbing truth in his deathbed are handled with almost undetectable forbearance yet viewers can maximally sense the repercussions since it shakes all her belief in one second. Foy is equally brilliant as the young Murph, she sets a solidified base with Cooper, which sustains the mainstay of the film’s critical emotional core and guides us through the transcendent experiences with Cooper, and a new child star is officially born.
Hathaway’s Brand, although second billed, surprisingly doesn’t have too much to offer as the co-pilot, sometimes even becomes a corny nuisance (poor Wes Bentley!), there is another type of father-daughter undercurrent (she and Caine) which the film largely dodges.
During Cooper’s expedition to find suitable planet for earthlings, there is the punned “Murphy’s Law” effect subsequently occurs, Matt Damon’s classified cameo is well-kept from the trailer and his appearance further cements his recent string of involvement with Sci-Fi genre (after THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU 2011, ELYSIUM 2013 and Terry Gilliam’s THE ZERO THEOREM 2013, next year he will be in Ridley Scott’s THE MARTIAN with Chastain), his Dr. Mann is the revered pioneer in the project, however it is through him, Nolan builds the only real villain (arguably Caine the big fat liar is pretty deplorable too), who succumbs to human frailties under the extreme condition, his motive is understandable, any of us could make the same move under his condition, that’s why the film is so precious, one has to overcome all the innate barriers to achieve something extraordinary, say without this commitment with Murph, without the uninhibited love for her daughter (poor Tom, his father never even mention him at all), maybe Plan B is the future for human race, and the cruelty is freshly in our face.
After GRAVITY (2013), we reach a new monumental peak for the cosmic cinematography, pairing with a new DP Hoyte Van Hoytema (from HER 2013, TINKER TAILER SOLDIER SPY 2011, THE FIGHTER 2010 and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN 2008), Nolan’s galactic wonders are sufficiently groundbreaking, consistently pepped with Hans Zimmer’s thrilling and thundering score as an infinite sound background, the three planets they visit bear simplistic topography grafted with inconceivable excesses, and the final homeland, the distorted proportion, all evokes the striking variations in INCEPTION. And if Alfonso Cuarón can win BEST DIRECTOR for GRAVITY, Nolan is much more deserving, I am firmly standing behind Nolan’s back this, it is a cinema-goer’s ultimate luck to have filmmakers like Nolan dares to make these “impossible and grand venture” to enlighten our imagination and edify our own consciousness as a human being in this imperfect world, with the prowess of love we all possess, however small we are individually, there is hope beckoning, eternally.