If you thought listening to Matthew McConaughey’s southern drawl was cumbersome in Dallas Buyers Club, try listening to him use it to talk about galactical jargon for three hours in Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction thriller Interstellar.
In Interstellar, Nolan depicts a dystopian world plagued by hunger, sandstorms and depleting resources. McConaughey portrays Cooper, a former NASA pilot turned farmer who finds himself struggling in a world that has no use for engineers, and has lost all hope for survival. Cooper’s daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) shares similar sentiments with her father, and discovers a mysterious, encoded message in her room that leads the two to a secret NASA base.
There, Cooper meets scientists Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), who inform Cooper of NASA’s plan to locate hospitable planets for humanity to move to, and subsequently recruit Cooper as the pilot for the mission. Cooper reluctantly agrees and leaves his family to embark on a lifelong mission in search of a solution for the world. Accompanied by a group of scientists and a talking robot, Cooper goes off into space where he watches people die, fights off Matt Damon and finds a bizarre bookshelf that allows him to creep on his daughter by knocking off books and pouring sand on the floor.
Nolan uses time interestingly to distinguish between Cooper’s life in space and the lives of characters still left on earth. While Cooper remains relatively the same age throughout the course of the movie, the audience sees Murphy age from a child to an adult to an elderly woman on her death bed.
Nolan accomplishes a unique feat in mimicking what is on the screen with how the audience is feeling. When Cooper feels time slowing down while in space, the audience also feels a similar slowing down of time when watching the film’s monotonous and confusing scenes.
Interstellar is a valiant effort for Nolan; however, the film’s major plot flaws and unoriginal premise weigh it down to something that resembles an unnecessarily complicated space flick. Though Interstellar is a cinematically beautiful piece that magnificently captures the depth and loneliness of space, the film is poorly timed and pales in comparison to last year’s Gravity.
McConaughey is once again McConaughey, this time in an astronaut suit. While he is believable as a Southern farmer turned space explorer, McConaughey’s performance is not strong enough to hold the audience’s attention for three hours. The actor, who is overshadowed by his daughters’ performance, does not even find the story’s central solution, which confuses me as to why the film focuses on him.
Hathaway is forgettable in her portrayal as the headstrong scientist Amelia. Though the actress does a solid job and commands a few of the film’s powerful moments, her chemistry and debatable on-screen romance with McConaughey is almost as missing as the wreckage that flies off into space.
However, the cast is livened up by newcomer Foy, who is best known for her role in the Twilight saga. At a young age, Foy masterfully holds her own against McConaughey and even surpasses him in several scenes as his stubborn and insanely intelligent daughter who eventually saves the world. Jessica Chastain is once again captivating in her performance as an older, wiser Murphy. The only problem with Chastain’s performance was how underused she was.
Interstellar is an ambitious feat for Nolan that unfortunately did not pay off. The film is splattered with lackluster performances and confusing storylines that just make the piece tedious to watch as an audience member. Although the film wasn’t horrible, it didn’t live up to its stellar name either. If it’s one thing I took away from Interstellar, it’s that I hope time travel actually does exist so I could take my three hours back.