Haven’t felt this close to a Nolan film in quite some time.
The cinematography takes Nolan in an entirely new direction! Nolan and Pfister may have broken up, but that’s ok because Interstellar is the beginning of a new relationship between Christopher Nolan and Hoyte van Hoytema. It still looks like a Nolan film, but Hoytema injects something fresh while also being able to match with Nolan’s sensibilities. It’s big, it’s epic, and it’s made for the theater experience, but Hoytema’s cinematography is impressive because of how intimately it captures its characters.
At the start of Interstellar, earth is a dying planet living on borrowed time. Humanity has no desire for exploration and progress but has instead chosen to accept their fate living their final days in the dirt. Before we even set off into space, the first act focuses solely on Cooper and his kids on earth. There’s personal drama taking place between these characters and it’s what helps to make the rest of the film so effective. Hoytema impeccably blends the grounded reality of earth with the unknown beauty of outer space.
There’s some clunky exposition going on especially during the first act. When we first meet Cooper, he’s a former NASA pilot who’s become a farmer. In the chunkiest bit of exposition, Cooper states all of this during a PTA meeting for his daughter Murph. Nolan’s biggest issue during this phase in his career is the constant exposition and handholding to get his point across to the audience. A little exposition never hurt anybody, but when it’s the only way to get these characters to interact with each other, that’s when the film starts to feel less personal and more mechanical.
Interstellar travel is not an easy subject to discuss, especially for a meathead such as myself, but Interstellar does too much in explaining every detail that it starts to lose you after awhile. The best moments aren’t when the dialogue deals with the science mumbo jumbo but when it’s used to develop the characters and their dynamics. The less explaining, the better because, quite frankly, the more they try to explain Interstellar travel, the more confusing it gets when you try to make sense of it all.
I honestly forgot how intimate Interstellar was and during my rewatch, I was brought back to my first time watching it in the theater. It’s an epic space adventure filled with gorgeous visuals and exciting sequences, but the best moments are between Coop and Murphy and their relationship that transcends all of space and time. Interstellar is a celebration of man’s ambition, but it’s also a calling card for all of us to reach for the stars.