A fault not in our stars

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images -

In­ter­stel­lar, space epic, rated PG-13, Jean Cocteau Cin­ema & Re­gal Sta­dium 14, 2.5 chiles In­ter­stel­lar is one of the most phe­nom­e­nally silly movies ever made. It is ut­terly ridicu­lous, but it has a strange majesty. This com­bi­na­tion gives it a cer­tain kind of stand­ing. It’s like 2001: A Space Odyssey as con­ceived by three col­lege-sopho­more phi­los­o­phy ma­jors on acid and a ju­nior from the physics depart­ment. It’s filled with earnest hokum and rid­dled with the­o­ret­i­cal physics chat­ter, most of which can’t be un­der­stood be­cause Hans Zim­mer’s rag­ing score and the thun­der­ing sound ef­fects are at a per­pet­ual death strug­gle with the (mostly mum­bled) di­a­logue. If I had writ­ten the screen­play, I would ask for my money back.

But the writ­ing fell to the di­rec­tor, Christo­pher Nolan (abet­ted by his brother Jonathan), so he has no one to blame but him­self. And it may well be that he de­cided that a cer­tain amount of con­fu­sion and un­in­tel­li­gi­bil­ity would be all to the good. He starts us off in a land­scape rem­i­nis­cent of the Mid­west prairie Dust Bowl. We see talk­ing heads of old peo­ple re­mem­ber­ing what it was like, and we as­sume they’re speak­ing about the 1930s, when im­prov­i­dent farm­ing meth­ods stripped the land bare and brought on epic storms. But then, at a lo­cal base­ball game, we see a black moun­tain of dust ap­proach­ing, and we re­al­ize that the time is now, now be­ing some­time in an un­spec­i­fied but not-too-dis­tant fu­ture when cli­mate-change de­niers have been in power long enough to wreak ul­ti­mate havoc.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a wi­d­ower farmer rais­ing two kids, son Tom (Ti­mothée Cha­la­met, later Casey Af­fleck) and daugh­ter Murph (Macken­zie Foy, later Jessica Chas­tain). He’s also a for­mer astro­naut, and this will play into his fu­ture and the fu­ture of all hu­man­ity when he and Murph de­ci­pher the coded sig­nals be­ing sent by the ghost in her book­shelf and un­cover a hid­den NASA fa­cil­ity where a rocket is be­ing pre­pared by an old pro­fes­sor (Michael Caine) with a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter (Anne Hath­away) to send a probe into another galaxy to save mankind. Yes.

It would be fool­ish to try to lay out more of the plot. Suf­fice it to say that Cooper turns out to be the only per­son who can lead this mis­sion, and off he goes with a small crew (that in­cludes Hath­away) to look for sur­vivors of pre­vi­ous space mis­sions sent to dis­cover whether there is an in­hab­it­able world through a worm­hole in space in another galaxy.

On a the­o­ret­i­cal-physics level, In­ter­stel­lar is all about relativity and the odd­ity that time bends and pro­ceeds more slowly when you’re hurtling through space than when you’re stuck back on the farm. On an emo­tional ba­sis, it’s all about fa­ther-daugh­ter bonds and the power of love. Nolan and his tech crew work some visual mag­nif­i­cence, but the story skips along at the speed of light, blithely and in­fec­tiously skimming over plot points that would not sur­vive much scru­tiny. It can be ridicu­lously en­ter­tain­ing, and its nearly three-hour run­ning time goes by rel­a­tively quickly. But it ain’t.

— Jonathan Richards

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