Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic Discuss this article

Christopher Nolan’s overwhelming, immersive and time-bending space epic Interstellar makes Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity feel like a palate cleanser for the big meal to come. Where Gravity was brief, contained and left the further bounds of the universe to our imagination, Interstellar is long, grand, strange and demanding – not least because it allows time to slip away from under our feet while running brain-aching ideas before our eyes. It’s a bold, beautiful cosmic adventure story with a touch of the surreal and the dreamlike, and yet it always feels grounded in its own serious reality.

It’s hard to talk about the story without ruining its slow drip of surprises. So let’s be vague. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) lives with his family – his father-in-law (John Lithgow) and two young kids – in a not-too-distant future where living off huge fields of corn is the only business around. Dust storms brew, and there’s an apocalyptic vibe, as if the Depression of the ’30s has been transplanted to a dying Earth.

Cooper has a strong bond with his daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy). But when this former pilot is given a chance to head a mission into space, he grabs it. This rough-and-ready everyman’s destiny is to join a secret project to save the Earth directed by the ageing Professor Brand (Michael Caine). And so he blasts into orbit in the company of Brand’s daughter (Anne Hathaway) and two other scientists (Wes Bentley, David Gyasi).

Their aim is to slip through a wormhole near Saturn and search for other planets capable of sustaining life.

You might understand the science (influenced by the involvement of physicist Kip Thorne), but the chances are you won’t. Yet still Interstellar inspires trust, and all the formulae and ample talk of wormholes is best taken as mood music. The real star is McConaughey: his earthy grit and family-man vulnerability are well placed: we believe his tears when the reality of multi-decade space travel sets in. Meanwhile the father-daughter relationship between Caine and Hathaway hits home with a sharp, powerful brutality.

And brutal is the word: this is a sharp, tense experience. There are some staggering visual coups: an ocean rising up to form the largest wave imaginable; a space ship floating past the rings of Saturn; a late scene which turns our perceptions of space and time on their head. But alongside these thrills are moments of intense danger, and Nolan makes us feel the threat, honing in on mechanical problems and other everyday risks.

Interstellar is, in large part, a spectacle. But it also asks you to think hard, look hard and urges you to return for more. Why only ask for the stars when you can have moons, distant planets, extra dimensions, lectures on physics and a sobering shot of terror? Interstellar has it all.

By Dave Calhoun
Time Out Doha,


  • Duration: 169
  • Released: Thu, 30 Oct
  • Classification: PG13
  • Language: English
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain

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