IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

PG-13 | 2h 3min | Adventure, Drama | 19 Sep 2019 (New Zealand) | Movie

Metacritic: 80/100

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86 % Fresh (Critics), 40% Rotten (Audience)

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross

Stars: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga

Movie Tagline: “The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach”

IMDb summary: Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.

I toiled to write 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 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.

James Gray has produced a 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).

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.

Brad Pitt is both narrator and guide as Roy McBride, who has 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 near-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 before him, but Roy also shares 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 is stunning. James Gray went all in, delivering a movie that explores the darkest reaches of space in all its beauty, with a very down-to-earth and realistic slant.

In that respect, I put this film right up there with Gravity and Interstellar.

There is something about the recurring theme in the film that looks at the vastness of space, and the unknown, and how this can relate to someone on a personal level. That a person can be alone for vast periods and not feel lost entirely is carefully examined 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.

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 themes throughout the film.

Originally posted on my blog TBQ

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