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Review: Interstellar–Cinematically Epic, Dramatically Intimate

Interstellar Movie 2014

Let me start by saying I’m a big Christopher Nolan fan: Memento and The Dark Knight are great, and Inception was smart and inventive, to say the least. Interstellar is, in my opinion, his greatest film so far, but also, perhaps, his most divisive. The scope is mesmerizing, Hans Zimmer has decided to give the percussion section a much-needed rest and the acting is superb. More than that, the viewer will likely have a strong emotional connection to the film, something that hasn’t happened during most of his other works.

Admittedly, I felt pity and disgust during The Prestige, while Memento teased my brain, but therein lies one the underlying aspects of Nolan films. They are intensely cerebral, stimulating your visual and auditory senses more than pulling your heartstrings. Interstellar is strikingly different. McConaughey imbues his stoic farmer/pilot with a level of humanity we aren’t used to from Nolan. A scene where he watches messages from his family is shot on a tiny set and the result is gut-wrenching, but it shows just how much Nolan and his editors have learned from previous experience, as the jumps between magnificent astral vistas and cramped, dingy spacecraft interiors occur often and quickly, but never in a ham-fisted way.

Critics have argued that the much of the proposed science in the movie is impossible. In many ways they’re correct. But the movie isn’t a scientific treatise any more than The Walking Dead is an expose on a potential zombie outbreak. On the contrary, it would better be described as a space epic where the viewer is sucked into the vastness, marveling at the wonders of our universe, all-the-while connecting with the main characters in a manner typical of intimate films. The fact that the science of Interstellar is more accurate the most space movies in the last 20 years should instead be applauded.

I will leave it at that for now, because the less said, the better. This is one of those movies where watching the previews likely detracts from the ultimate experience. The bottom line is that Interstellar is a sad, beautiful film, the kind of which we rarely get to see nowadays, and as we saw with Gravity, we have a hugely ambitious space drama that poses many questions, but doesn’t set out to answer all of them.