“The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach”
Ad Astra (2019)
Image Credits: IMDb
I toiled with the idea of writing this review for more than a day. I decided I had to see it more than once to fully understand the magnitude of the message that this film delivered. I am not sure that I’ve fully grasped all of the concepts explored in the movie, but there is one that seemed to hit home a lot harder than expected, and that is the almost claustrophobic feeling of abandonment. I’ll work my way back around to this a little later on.
In a nutshell, James Gray has produced a seriously heavy hitter with Ad Astra, and he has none other than Brad Pitt hitting the ball right on out of the ballpark for him. Not only is this one of the best films I’ve seen this year, but Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Astronaut Roy McBride is out of this world (no pun intended). If this film doesn’t get an Oscar nod for at least best picture, I’ll be disappointed.
Ad Astra is a touching, moving and at some moments uncomfortable film to watch. It’s both exhilarating and melancholy all at once with some scenes interlocking with each other in a beautiful synergy. I was actually surprised to find that this film wasn’t based on a book because the story is just wonderful.
Brad Pitt is both narrator and guide as Roy McBride who finds himself having to face the painful abandonment of his past by his father, esteemed Doctor and Astronaut Clifford McBride played by Tommy Lee Jones. When he is tasked with the almost impossible feat of searching for a father he thought was long gone, the journey he undertakes is one that wreaks havoc on him physically, mentally and emotionally. Not only has Roy dedicated his life to the exploration of space, just like his father did before him, but Roy also finds himself sharing a lot of the less desirable character traits of his father. Part of his journey into space to find a father he thought was dead is also a journey inward into the painful memories of an absent father. Roy McBride, now an adult, still doesn’t know who his father is or who he has become.
The cinematography of this film will leave you with your mouth on the floor. James Gray went all in to try and deliver a movie that not only explored the darkest reaches of space and all its beauty, but he wanted the imagery to be as realistic as possible. In that respect, I put this film right up there with Gravity and Interstellar. Ad Astra is that remarkable.
There is something to be said about the recurring theme in the film that looks at the vastness of space, and the unknown and how it can pull people into it like a venus fly trap does its prey. The idea that a person can be alone for vast periods and not feel lost entirely is carefully examined mostly with the sad yet hopeful eyes of Roy who unlike his father, changes the course of his life after realizing what his father for all those years, could not. Like all good films that make you feel something, Ad Astra is a movie you should go into entirely open. It honestly took me by surprise in the best way possible.
See it if you love space films and emotional journeys as Ad Astra beautifully intertwines both of these themes throughout the film.
The Broken Quill Rating – 4.5/5