Should I Watch It? – Interstellar (2014)

“Whatever can happen will happen.” So Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) tells his daughter, Murph, early in Interstellar. Director Christopher Nolan then proceeds just how close he can come to confirming that explanation of Murphy’s Law within one film. Interstellar is big in every way — in length, scope, and in its level of existential contemplation. At first I thought perhaps I should forego our typical SIWI questions to unpack the film more fully, but I now feel I must utilize our site’s boundaries  to avoid misrepresenting Nolan’s destruction of our world – and the glimpse of those beyond. We can’t have me rambling and overstepping the bounds of my lacking scientific and philosophical knowledge.

Should I pay to see it?

The simple answer is yes, given that it will be a long time before one can watch this movie in high quality for free. Besides frugality, though, this is unsurprisingly a film made to be seen on the big screen. Nolan’s best moments come when the setting is large — the chaotic unknown of wormholes and the beautiful potential of far-off planets. These moments beg you the viewer to make the trek to the theater. The dialogue and pathos of the movie will endure beyond its time in the theaters, but the stunning landscapes of cosmos familiar and beyond will provoke the strongest emotions in those enveloped by the big blackness of a cinema screen.

The film runs almost three hours, so there’s bound to be slow moments. The first hour simmers slowly, and at times the dialogue feels heavy-handed, well-intentioned by redundant and blatant. As the proportions of the film’s conflict spin further and further away from our imaginative capabilities, Nolan loses the balance between the world he has opened up and the one it seemed he would leave behind. Each time he stretches our minds to a new horizon or frontier, he snaps them back to the blazing fields and tortured hearts of Earth. Outside the spacecrafts, we see unbelievable sights but back inside only the breaking hearts of their inhabitants. To be fair, I think Nolan wants to remind us that these frontiers and horizons can only be reached through sacrifices. Nevertheless, we hear too many big statements — “Love is the one thing that transcends time and space” — compared to how many we see made by the universe and its wonders.

Could I watch it with a date?

A patient date, I suppose! The romanticism of the film plays out in many ways, and while I wish the scale leaned a little more towards the scientific instead of the interpersonal, Nolan does manage to tie the two together in a highly moving manner. Anne Hathaway plays Cooper’s shipmate Amelia, and together they simultaneously explore the full spectra of human scientific and emotional exploration. The film’s mind-boggling ideas regarding nature, its benevolence, and the untapped spaces of our minds and galaxies make for weighty date material, perhaps pushing us to look upward rather than to the person beside us.

Even if our science pushes far enough forward to seriously consider the missions depicted in the film, our best chance will be just that — a chance. An adventure with an unknown, potentially disastrous conclusion. That realization, and the scary science it encompasses that I’d rather not try to summarize, can shake one spiritually. We can only hope that the blight and desolation of Interstellar will not reach Earth too soon, and that when they arrive we’ll be willing to take the necessary chances.

Could I watch it with my mother?

At its core, the film is about a father and a daughter and the legacy one generation leaves for those behind it, so yes you could. Ok, I tried. I tried to stick to the questions, but now I must digress.

The script is filled with effective moments both light and tense, but the strongest scenes and shots come when the score and script simply shut the hell up. SILENCE is the most striking feature of the film, when Nolan cuts the sound as we view Cooper and company spinning through space, at the mercy of forces greater than we can overcome or even fully understand. Gravity was of slightly smaller scope, but it worked because of its emphasis on space and its isolation. Interstellar‘s science begs for the comforts of human interaction, but it doesn’t require it.

McConaughey may very well end up with another Oscar nomination, and if he does he’ll deserve it, but I think he could have earned one with less banter and wit. His performance thrives on wondrous nostalgia and the reinvigorated spirit of an explorer. Thus, it relies on space, on space’s ability to amaze with its black holes and boundlessness (along with McConaughey’s well-tuned ‘aw-shucks’ earnestness). Like his star, Nolan will in all likelihood earn nominations and victories as awards season rolls around, but I think he could have done more by saying less.

It’s hard to fault him for giving the actors so much to do. They all do wonderful jobs, the aforementioned stars along with the others both on Earth and above, and as of now all we can do is talk and theorize about the journeys the movie undertakes. I loved the movie and the experience of watching it. If I’ve misled you, I apologize. GO SEE IT. SOON. DO IT NOW.

I just wish space could have been the star. I wish we were ready to truly explore. We do a lot of talking, like the characters on the screen before our eyes. I, and I think I speak for Nolan as well,  just can’t wait for space — the wormholes and irregularities and unknowns — to answer back.

 

 

INTERSTELLAR

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About Author: Brian McMahon

Brian is an author and co-founder of GoodWillWatching. He likes to write and is deathly afraid of bugs. His Great American Novel, not yet titled or existent, will be shocking the world some time or another. He once stayed up for two days straight because of poor information regarding the arrival of Halley’s Comet, which was not due for approximately 57 years. You can follow him @bm1313 on Twitter, or in real life from a safe distance.

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