Christopher Nolan is a bona-fide auteur. He has made cinema his way for over 15 years. Big, ambitious and beautiful, Interstellar is, at times, a piece of visionary filmmaking.
Presenting a stark, dark future for humanity, the film’s first act depicts a planet on its
last legs. In a world so crippled by famine that even the US Army has ceased to exist, Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper is an engineer in a time that needs farmers, a man feeling so abject in his own world that he’s willing to leave his own family to maybe find another. The first act of Nolan’s vision is crisp, unforgiving and emotionally heart-rending.
But as the mission takes off, things start going awry immediately. Anne Hathaway’s Brand is a strange amalgam of motives, the mission start is rushed, and as more layers are added, the more it’s clear that Interstellar is a broken, incomplete creation.
]Nolan is a master of the cinematic reveal, a modern filmmaking magician. And Interstellar certainly tries to pull the same trick as many of Nolan’s masterpieces, presenting a picture, only to pull another more astounding one from behind it. All the elements are there for it: a journey of incredible discovery; a stunning visual presentation of wormholes, black holes and worlds beyond imagination; some thrilling action set-pieces; a fresh take on AI assistants; and a predictably excellent score from Hans Zimmer.
However, the core of the story is cripplingly unclear, suffocating inside a crumpled wrapper of half-executed ideas, unresolved strands of narrative and competing themes. Is it about humanity? Love? Family? Discovery? Forgiveness? Deceit? Not even the Nolans seem to know. With a clearer core, we could forgive the often-atrocious dialogue or the ludicrous climactic sequence, let the diabetes-inducing epilogue slide, and look past the fact that Cooper speaks exclusively in proverbs.
Interstellar is an attempt at a grand opus for a new age, presented with a flawless visual spectacle; a thing of beauty. But it’s a hollow beauty.