Reviews

Interstellar review: Light after blight

Genre: Science Fiction

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine

Known for making grand technical statements, Christopher Nolan addresses the tear ducts this time while building on his strength. At a time when National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has lost some of its sheen and the financial compulsions are forcing Americans to look within, Nolan makes a case for revitalising the space programme. Early in the film a teacher says we need more farmers than engineers now because we are not in danger of running out of TV sets but food.

As always the world as we know it is in danger. This time it is the dust clouds, described as blight, which are threatening to destroy American food resources. Yes, apart from an Indian drone early in the film, perhaps a nod to increasing audience base for such tent poles in the country, there is no mention of any other country neither on land nor in space. It is an American expedition all the way.

As the clouds gather, Farmer Cooper (McConaughey), who was once a test pilot with NASA is lured into leading a mission to find an alternative of Earth in space by Professor Bard (Michael Caine) leaving behind his precocious daughter Murphy (Jessica Chastain). He is joined by robotic and human colleagues including Bard’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway).

Beneath all the physics thrown at us there is a throbbing heart as the Nolan brothers (Christopher and writer Jonathon) manage the interplay between science and sentiments rather well. Every minute that Cooper spends in space amounts to two on earth. It creates an emotional swell because his daughter could outgrow him if he doesn’t complete the mission in time. Relativity makes us see not only time and space but also concepts of love and faith, ghost and logic in a rational light. It comes out that perhaps Amelia is making this journey into the wormhole to find her love. Can the love for species ever be bigger than love for self and family?

Every time the slush of sentimentality threatens to stop the vehicle in its tracks, the brothers throw some grandiose visual effects at us –– a humungous wave of water on an unknown planet or a robot taking the shape of an asterisk showing our place in nature –– and whenever the atmospherics bog down the proceedings, they pull the strings of heart to keep the shuttle flying. Can Nature be evil? Or does its formidable manifestation confuse us? However, this juggling goes awry in the climax, which reeks of unbridled indulgence to whip up an emotional frenzy. There is lot of expounding in conversations to make the audience understand the jargons but it makes the characters look out of depth, and the climactic trick shows the algorithm type screenplay is essentially just a house of cards.

In one of the most defining performances of his eventful career, McConaughey holds this space odyssey together till the end and Anne matches him. Matt Damon impresses in a cameo. At times, it literally becomes a test of endurance but overall it is an experience that deserves your three hours.

Bottomline: Making a case for space missions all over again, Nolan’s spectacle loses gravity in the final act.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 1:10:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/interstellar-light-after-blight/article6574491.ece

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