It’s always difficult to write about a movie that requires a second viewing before it can be fully understood. Therefore, I think I will hold off reviewing Interstellar as such but will give you a few preliminary notes.
First off, what helps it in the Oscar race for Best Picture is that it’s likely to land as a “love it/hate it.” Those who love it really love it. Those who hate it really hate it. That can always help with getting in a Best Pic nominee under a preferential ballot – but when it comes to choosing a winner a film needs more broad based support overall, with very little hating going on, in fact, hardly any.
Interstellar wins Visual Effects walking in the door and will likely collect Sound Oscars and perhaps Cinematography and Production Design. But its ultimate fate in terms of the bigger categories remains a question mark. It needs time to settle in and it might not get it. Box office and fan reviews, coupled with how it plays overall in the industry will impact its Oscar chances. But Visual Effects? Hands down.
It’s already dividing critics, with Tim Robey saying “Nolan comes very close here, one might almost say agonisingly close, to forging his masterpiece.” But others aren’t as enthusiastic. Interstellar’s story, Oscar wise, box office wise and legacy wise, remains, for the moment, untold.
I sort of agree with Robey in that I do believe, upon first viewing, that Interstellar is a near masterpiece that could have probably killed its darlings to become one. But its place in film history, I think, will belong to future generations that will have understood the plot already and thus, will be able to appreciate the film’s stunning moments without the necessity of understanding its plot.
There is one thing you can say with absolute certainty: Interstellar is unlike any film you will see this year. The scenes in space are breathtaking. The imagined worlds of Christopher and Jonathan Nolan’s cut new terrain – making grand statements about where we’ve been and where we are headed. It is in keeping with the original screenplay Nolan oeuvre – circular storytelling that seems confusing until the circle closes and the story reveals itself. With Interstellar that’s kicked up a couple of notches. More confusing in the first part, exciting as the story starts to make sense in the last third.
Without spoiling it, Chastain is Interstellar’s most important character. This comes as a surprise, given her lack of screen time and the way the film is advertised. But the two acting standouts are Chastain and the lead, Matthew McConaughey.
Mostly, I was greatly moved by the Nolans choice to not dumb down the female contribution – to give creation and perpetuation of mankind back where it belongs. If I see it as any comment on 2001, that would be it – the Nolans clearly made an effort to give the power back to women. I’ll be forever grateful to them for that. And though I don’t see this as a perfect film – that last third is worth the price of admission.