<h6> Ian Frazier ’15 </h6>
In an era where directors release new films every few years, it is difficult to identify filmmakers with perfect résumés. Even legends like Steven Spielberg and the Coen brothers have faltered with films like The Terminal and The Ladykillers, respectively. However, with eight directorial efforts, Christopher Nolan has yet to disappoint anyone who appreciates his distinct, audacious approach. Nolan’s record does not need to be defended. From the grim realism of The Dark Knight trilogy to the astonishing spectacle of Inception, Nolan’s style brings a much-needed freshness to an age of remakes, sequels, and mindless blockbusters. He not only constructs breathtaking worlds and complex characters, but he also makes moviegoing an experience. With Interstellar, his ninth film, Nolan expands his imagination further than ever, reaching into the rich opportunities of the cosmos.
The film begins with Cooper, a widower and pilot-turned-farmer, living with his son, daughter, and father-in-law in a dying world. Earth’s food supply is dwindling. After stumbling upon a former professor and current space enthusiast, Cooper accepts a mission that may prove to save his children and the entire human race. Cooper is commissioned to pilot a spacecraft with three other experts and two humorous robots in order to find new worlds to inhabit. Before his departure, Cooper promises his daughter, Murph, that he will return to her. Even with stunning visuals and Hans Zimmer’s poignant score, it is the father-daughter relationship that carries the narrative to improbable heights. In Nolan’s previous works, emotion has been significant, but it has never driven the film until Interstellar. The most powerful scenes are not the tense situations of desperation or the limitless wonder of space itself, but rather the moments of intimate human connection.
The emotional pull does not work without outstanding performances delivered by Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Mackenzie Foy. If it was not official after his Academy Award victory for Dallas Buyers Club, it is now indisputable that McConaughey is no longer the romantic-comedy mess from Failure to Launch, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, and many more. The 45-year-old actor is now a force in the industry, and he completely immerses himself in Cooper’s character, resulting in yet another achievement that few performers could have matched. Foy, who plays Cooper’s young daughter, is a revelation whose acting talent is not even remotely overshadowed by McConaughey’s. A balance between the two actors is vital to the film’s success, and the combination of their performances results in a thoroughly authentic connection.
The product on screen is brilliant, but Nolan’s work behind the camera is the movie’s greatest accomplishment. The unmitigated ambition to make a film like Interstellar is enough to praise Nolan and his co-writer and brother, Jonathan. The success with such a demanding concept is something else entirely. All that can be done is marvel at what visionaries like Nolan can produce with an idea and a gift for filmmaking. Interstellar is not only one of the best movies in recent memory, but it is also an important film. Hopefully, those in the industry will recognize Nolan’s innovation and strive to enlarge their own imaginations.
Christopher Nolan’s latest work is original and bold; it provides a theatrical experience unlike any other. The performances are genuine, the technical aspects are flawless, and the vision is boundless. Even though the fate of the human race is at stake, Nolan always circles the story back to one man’s struggle to see his children again. By doing so, Christopher Nolan’s space epic could not be more down to Earth. It is a cinematic gem that will stand the test of time.
Rating (out of 4 stars): ⭐⭐⭐⭐