I’m a Christopher Nolan fan and I’ve enjoyed everything he’s produced up until now. Which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Interstellar. I did. I just couldn’t quite understand what kind of film it was. A love story? An apocalyptic race against (within?) time? A meditation on what it means to get old? A balls-to-the-wall SF thriller? It’s all of these, as well as a mind-bending maths lesson and an homage to Stanley Kubrick.
As a result, my loyalties were skewed. Were we supposed to be rooting for romance, hoping that he and Anne Hathaway would get it together? I couldn’t care less. Were we supposed to be shocked by the revelation that the baddie was not a HAL-style ship’s computer (in this case, Minecraft-style robots given the best lines) but a nasty little cameo from an actor not listed in the credits? I couldn’t care less. Humanity is ending! Reach for the Kleenex. Not here.
I didn’t care for the clumsy, unlikely, expositional dialogue (explaining a wormhole to a brilliant NASA pilot? Yeah, right. Hey, Anne, what is love, anyway?) or the tortuous routes taken to plot locations that could have used a simpler map (dust co-ordinates leading to NASA HQ… where suddenly MM is the pilot they need). The whole tesseract bit recalled 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s coda in which Dave Bowman finds himself face-to-face with his deathbed self. Nolan’s version serves only to invite comparisons and Interstellar can only fail. Kubrick’s classic, though experimental, cold and uncomfortable nevertheless has its roots in a story that is focused and intractable. Alongside it, Interstellar comes across as a wild, beautiful mess.
At times you get the feeling Nolan remembered he was directing a thriller and so had to jemmy in a fight scene, or a chase, or an explosion. In 2001, such moments are tense, natural extensions of the story. Here they seem bolted on.
It looked gorgeous and some of the acting was, um, out of this world (MM and Mackenzie Foy especially). But there was too much going on, and the climactic reuniting of MM and his daughter, now old and dying, was wasted, underwhelming. We see MM jet off in pursuit of Anne Hathaway, whose opinion of him, like the robots’ empathy and humour settings, was never quite 100 per cent.
I found myself curiously unmoved regarding the fate of the human race. All of my emotion was invested in the agonising time-shear keeping Matthew McConaughey away from his daughter. That was the most fascinating facet of this story, and was enough to underpin the film without all the other bells and whistles.
There was much to admire in this film, and I will watch it again, but it was a frustrating near-miss for me. Nolan, a fascinating director with ambition, seems to be incapable of reining it in. He’s an epic director but it seems to me he doesn’t, yet, have the shoulders to carry an epic, reality-driven film.