Interstellar really makes you want to reach for the stars

Christopher Nolan’s incredible INTERSTELLAR is a life-affirming journey among the stars.

He just keeps making amazing movies does Christopher Nolan. His latest, the incredible INTERSTELLAR, covers space exploration, what it means to be human, our place on the planet and love – and it just blew me away. He really is one of the directors working in film today that thinks bigger with every project and it works. And INTERSTELLAR is certainly his most epic picture to date.

Mackenzie Foy as Murph and Matthew McConaughey as Coop in Interstellar

Mackenzie Foy is the young Murph with Matthew McConaughey as Coop

Matthew McConaughey tops off his string of recent brilliant performances as Coop, the one-time pilot, now farmer and father to 15-year-old son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and 10-year-old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy). Earth, in this story, is now ravaged with blights which not only affect the crops but produce wild sandstorms that engulf everything in their path. Along with his father-in-law Donald (the always wonderful John Lithgow), the family eke out their living harvesting what they can, while Coop also lends his engineer talents to fixing farm machinery to adapt to this new, harsher environment.

Things start to change when Murph tells him there’s a ghost in her bedroom, a poltergeist that pushes books off the shelves. When Coop investigates, he realises that through this seemingly random act, a pattern or code is embedded. But from who? Deciphering the code, takes Coop and his young daughter on a journey cross country, leading Coop to be reunited with an old friend – Professor Brand (played with his usual gravitas by Nolan regular Michael Caine) and to be offered a tantalising proposition.

Matthew McConaughey as Coop and Anne Hathaway as Amelia in Interstellar

McConaughey with Anne Hathaway’s Amelia

Brand and his daughter Amelia (a very winning Anne Hathaway) have secretly been constructing a spacecraft that will allow exploration of far-distant stars in the hope that one of these could offer a new home to Earth’s inhabitants. They need someone like Coop – the best pilot there was on the now long-defunct space programme – to guide this mission. But the downside means that Coop will be away for a long time from his family and in particular, Murph. Asking one man to put aside his feelings for the sake of many others is a great hook for an audience and before long, we’re in space on the mission, willing it to work for Coop so he can return to his family.

But things can’t be as simple as that. In a Nolan film, there are levels and levels that continually dazzle you. Whether it’s working backwards to piece together the events in Memento, or puzzling over the stages of the dreams in Inception, he constantly delivers set piece after set piece to challenge and amaze you and here, it’s no different. When Coop, Amelia and the other members of the crew, Wes Bentley’s Doyle and David Gyasi’s Romilly choose the first of the planets that looks a promising home, the kicker is that for every hour they spend on the surface, it’s the equivalent of seven years elapsing back on Earth.

Jessica Chastain as the older Murph in Interstellar

Jessica Chastain is the older Murph

And then, back at home, we see Coop’s children struggle to live without him. Murph, now played beautifully by Jessica Chastain (giving another of her terrific performances), has become a brilliant scientist working at NASA alongside Professor Brand to try and figure out how the space stations that will take Earth’s population to the stars will actually get there. Her brother Tom, now played by the excellent Casey Affleck, concentrates on battling against the elements as a farmer. It’s these strands, with Coop and his crew in space counterpointed with his family back on Earth, that form the core of the movie and take you from being absolutely open-mouthed one minute to then feel the tears streaming down your face at the next.

The performances from every one of these superlative actors are matched by the top-class talent behind the scenes, as we find another of Nolan’s regular collaborators, the composer Hans Zimmer, providing one of his brilliant and individual scores and new collaborator and director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema delivering image after extraordinary image. Nolan and his brother Jonathan have crafted a story of fathers and daughters, of discovery, of endurance, of hope and of love, which is then brought together by Nolan with all his trademark visual flair to make INTERSTELLAR a life-affirming experience that’s quite simply one of the best films of the year – do not miss it.