If you happen to be a Nolan groupie, I recommend you do not continue reading this post.
When Interstellar came to an end, the feeling I was left with was this: Remember the uncle you are fond of, but wary of running into at family gatherings – you are worried he may talk to you about differential equations, and then you will have to admit to him how you cannot recall anything at all, despite having learnt it only two weeks ago. You are left with no doubt regarding his intelligence, but you wish he spoke to you of more normal (fun) things.
Watching Interstellar felt a little like that. Black hole! Worm hole! Time space-space time-planet-galaxy-space station! The movie throws so many things at you, you are left trying to make sense of what exactly the characters are doing. (Wait, which equation did she finally solve?) It was almost like watching Science of Stupid on NatGeo, only we have to remind ourselves often that this is a movie, not a documentary. If you take away the scientific component of the movie, we are left with a hollow emotional drama, trying too hard to tell us “love exists across time AND space”.
Many of the scenes that we should have been moved by, we are left cold. For instance, we know Cooper is close to his children because this point is mentioned at every possible circumstance. We know the young Murph is dejected and inconsolable, because we are shown how she throws a fit and refuses to say goodbye to her father. Why do we not feel these things? I would go so far as to say that, even when Cooper maneuvered himself and Dr. Brand into the spinning-out-of-control Endurance, I felt nothing. That sense of urgency, the being invested in these characters and caring about what happens to them – I missed experiencing that emotion. The part where Cooper returns from the planet with the enormous tidal waves and finds messages from his children spanning 23 years – nothing. Though I may have to attribute this partly to the unfortunate placing of the interval right in the middle of Murph’s sentimental dialogue.
At times I felt as though the audience was too enthusiastic – they were determined to marvel at the movie. Do you remember the scene where Cooper listens to a recording of birds chirping and the pitter patter of raindrops? There was a collective sigh for that particular scene. Why was that exceptional? We saw a near-comatose Sneha do the same in Pirivom Sandhippom. (Blasphemy? I am sorry.)
Also, I was never fully convinced as to why some characters did certain things. Maybe I just didn’t buy into the premise enough. Why does Mann run away after his attempt to kill Cooper? Why couldn’t he tell the others how he was a coward and now the best thing for them to do would be to set out on Plan B? Not for one moment did I feel that these characters were going on an expedition of unimaginable magnitude – sure, the visuals on the screen make me want to think that, but my reaction is not instinctive. And all that groan-inducing dialogue. Four recitations of “Do not go gentle into the good night”? – does everything have a meaning I don’t get? Every dialogue is emphasized, made to sound like Something Extraordinary – Cooper explaining that parents are the ghosts of their children’s future/ Cooper saying now we just look for our place in the dirt. Precisely when does Cooper discover Amelia’s true feelings for Edmunds? The audience is not shown this, until the scene where Cooper announces that Doyle deserves to know the true reason behind Amelia wanting to go to Edmunds’ planet. At this point, it seems like more unnecessary dialogue spoken to give Amelia’s character more shades.
All the diversions and roundabouts and supposedly tense sequences and the suspense just made the movie seem Interminable. Maybe that is what it should have been called instead.