Last year one of the great cinematic experiences was released, Gravity. It was a film with outstanding technical flare but also heart. The latter is always something I thought was lacking from Nolan’s work; he reached for it in his brilliant Inception, but not in the same way as he does with Interstellar. I’ve never loved a Nolan film as much as I love Interstellar and I don’t care what anybody says.
Nolan is aware of cinematic history, he obviously evokes 2001, but his influences are wide ranging. There is something of Terence Malick’s Days of Heaven, but also the great epics, Ben Hur and also Star Wars. He loves film, and this pours out in Interstellar: Nolan is aware that big doesn’t necessarily mean dumber, but also that clever doesn’t always mean more opaque. He is the master of the blockbuster, officially taking the crown from Spielberg.
The rigour of Inception gives away to unabashed sentimentality, which I agree might be problematic for some but for me was perfectly pitched. The stress of leaving the ones you love for what might be a fruitless campaign is captured brilliantly by Nolan and his co-writer brother. This emphasis on love and human companionship is placed centre stage: a scene – that I won’t spoil – featuring a great actor, putting in a great performance tugs at more than just heart strings. It’s angry, tense and wrapped up in a deep sense of true loneliness. For all the unbelievable visuals, it is the human moments that Nolan commands with the most flare.
But he also commands his actors, who are all really special. Ann Hathaway is terrifically understated, effortless in achieving our empathy and love. Jessica Chastain does that thing she does where she spins gold from what might seem like relatively little and Casey Affleck does the same. Then there is the man they call Mcconaughey, a true American “old-boy” in appearance but with so much more bubbling away underneath that smooth accent and chiselled jaw. He is utterly brilliant here, giving what I think is his best performance to date. His emotional range is staggering and the love he obviously throws into his performance shines through like the self loathing did in Dallas Buyer’s Club.
Where I think some people are going wrong with this film is that it isn’t a blockbuster made for adults, but for kids and teenagers. Nolan is emulating the films that inspired him and in doing so attempting to inspire a new generation of filmmakers and film lovers. People who suggest that the latter stages of the film are clunky and unbelievable don’t get the point of having, and acting on, an imagination.
Interstellar is an awe-inspiring and powerful achievement, with Nolan standing at the helm like some crazy kid letting his ideas and dreams run away with him, bending space and time for our entertainment.