Review: Ad Astra (12A)

Krista Volden reviews the latest Brad Pitt from director James Gray.

Krista Volden
9th October 2019
Image: YouTube
Like zodiac signs in astrology, you will have moviegoers who believe this film is complete nonsense.  Yet, if you go into this experience with an open mind and welcome the slow burn this film "emits,” you may walk out of the cinema seeing the universe differently … And, sometimes, that’s enough to make a film “land.”

Still reeling from his most recent success in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Brad Pitt seamlessly steps into this new role and reminds us why he belongs in the film industry.  His character, Roy McBride, an emotionally stunted astronaut living in the shadow of his highly esteemed father, and fellow astronaut, embarks on a mission to stop catastrophic events caused by his father’s last expedition, thirty years prior.  Here, McBride is confronted by difficult truths and dangerous forces at play.  While there are frames that depict these forces at play, Jame’s Gray’s Ad Astra could not take a further departure from films such as Apollo 13 or Gravity.  And, if a moviegoer walks in with these expectations, they’ll leave missing the point.

"It is a film about self-exploration, and the daunting challenges of coming to grips with who you are and what is important to you."

This film is almost entirely shot in space, yet is firmly tethered to the earth… or, more importantly, humanity.  This is not a film about space exploration, it is a film about self-exploration, and the daunting challenges of coming to grips with who you are and what is important to you.  Gray’s story line mirrors the pace of real-life space travel - slow.  And, it is through McBride’s painfully slow journey that we begin to fully understand his reluctance to really connect with those around him.  The angles of this film leave us in awe of the beauty of our galaxy but we cannot help but feel sorrow in light of McBride’s journey. 

Is this film flawed?  Yes, absolutely!  There are moments when the screen play dilutes the seriousness of the film or we lose sight of the  direction we’re headed.  Yet, Gray brilliantly outlines the importance of being connected with others, and challenges the pursuit of divine beauty at the cost of living in isolation.  

Rating: 3/5

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