A fault not in our stars
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