Interstellar, rated PG-13

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace

Austin Family critical rating: 5 of 5 stars

Austin Family Family-Friendly rating: 4 of 5 stars

The quiet of outer space is astonishing in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. It was a joy to sit in the cinema and experience the vastness of the surrounding planets, wormholes and galaxies, hearing only the beautiful sound of the film projector running.

This is a positively gigantic movie. It’s Nolan’s most ambitious film to date, tackling huge themes and intercutting between stories set in outer space and on Earth. How many films consider whether we’re ruled by emotion or logic—and which benefits our survival? Interstellar is also Nolan’s most life-affirming and emotional movie to date, trading in the darkness of Inception and The Dark Knight for a tale of resilience.

The Earth is dying, and while most of the human race is scrambling to farm their way to survival on this planet, former pilot and engineer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is not content to wither away and watch his children die. He stumbles upon the remaining scientists and physicists who comprise NASA, none of whom possess Cooper’s experience and training as a pilot. With no hope for Earth’s future in sight, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) asks Cooper to pilot a mission to find an inhabitable planet for the human race.

Nolan’s dense, layered dialogue has developed into its own language. Hearing McConaughey deliver these lines is immensely satisfying—I can’t think of a better actor to ground a film of this scope and magnitude. McConaughey himself is a bit larger-than-life, and we believe him for every second as he embodies the pioneering spirit that created America’s great space program.

Nolan is one of the best emotional directors working. Interstellar is meant to be felt and experienced more than understood, and nobody can better grip you in a film’s momentum, excitement and emotional power. This is exactly the kind of non-ironic, large-canvas epic that used to soar—closer in feeling to the Hollywood pictures from the 1980s.

With a first act that vividly shows life on Earth, a second act of amazing space exploration and a deeply moving third act, Interstellar is one of the best-paced big-studio dramas in years. And the film doesn’t stop there. Even during its resolution, Cooper keeps going—he’s only interested in moving forward, pioneering the next wave. With each film, Nolan keeps doing the same.

See Interstellar in glorious 35mm or 70mm film rather than digital projection, as Nolan would prefer. It’s far too rare these days that any thought or care is taken as to how a movie is projected, and it’s gratifying to see Nolan shoot his film a specific way and insist that many theaters show it that way.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.


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