Nolan reaches for stars, falls short

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” – a three-word phrase that has the potential to create a flurry of questions, hopes and curiosities within the film community.

The name alone behind such an ambitious-sounding project is enough to stir up a feeding frenzy of excitement.

Since his first original hit in 2000 with the mind-bendingly complex “Memento,” Nolan quickly began to develop a cult following for his layered stories, innovative direction and unique approaches to filmmaking in general.

However, it wasn’t until “Batman Begins,” the director’s dark, brooding approach to the beloved DC Comics superhero, that Nolan began to gain momentum as a mainstream filmmaker.

After a few massive hits with his pair of sequels to “Batman Begins” in the form of “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” as well the wildly original “Inception,” Nolan became known as one of the early frontrunners for “Most Essential Directors of the 21st Century.”

Nolan’s latest – his ninth feature-length film and third working from a purely original screenplay – may mark the beginning of a new artistic direction for the filmmaker. More sentimental, more patient and more understanding of his character’s motivations and reasoning.

Though “Interstellar” suffers from some of the issues in structure and coherence that often plague Nolan’s work, the film simultaneously accomplishes some of the director’s greatest performance and technical feats to date.

The story begins somewhere in the unforeseeable future in rural, middle America. Life for the area is reminiscent of the Dustbowl era, and humanity is slowly fading away, as the planet is unable to sustain life.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a widowed former NASA test pilot, lives with his two children, Tom and Murphy, and his father-in-law, Donald. When he’s not working in the cornfields to support his family, he’s chasing down spacecraft to secretly analyze.

After stumbling upon a secret government base, Cooper is informed of an upcoming mission to investigate a black hole just outside of Saturn’s ring with the hopes of finding an alternate universe to start a new life.

Cooper is sent into space with Dr. Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), David Gyasi (Romily), Wes Bentley (Doyle) and TARS, a multipurpose robot, voiced by Bill Irwin. His children are devastated, knowing it won’t be until adulthood that they’ll see him again – possibly much later.

Oddly enough, after comparing my thoughts with fellow critics, what I ended up enjoying about “Interstellar” is far different than the norm.

Many criticized the sentimental moments, finding them to be overly long and compromising of Nolan’s stylistic qualities. However, I felt these moments provided a lot to the character’s motivations and allowed for some of the film’s richest emotional progression.

However, my biggest complaint for “Interstellar” also extends to a lot of Nolan’s work.

The story begins in very familiar territory, but as it develops, the physics and reasoning behind Nolan’s twists were difficult to follow. There was a similar problem with “Inception,” but not to the same extent as “Interstellar”: Nolan’s moments of clarity aren’t as spelled out as they should be for the viewer to follow.

While this is a major issue that stopped me from enjoying the film more than I did, I will recognize “Interstellar” for what it is: A well-acted, atmospheric ride into the unknown.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 10th, 2014 and is filed under A&E. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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