An atmospheric, melancholy and thought-provoking sci-fi from director James Gray which centres on the fraught interstellar journey of Brad Pitt’s astronaut, Roy McBride.
Pitt’s character is tasked with venturing into deep space in order to communicate with his long-lost father, a national hero and space pioneer once given up for dead whose experiments are seemingly causing serious problems back on earth.
Beautifully shot and at times extremely poignant, Ad Astra firmly embraces its sombre and reflective tone. While it does drag in place and makes the odd digression which slows things down a little too much, for the most part its utilised extremely effectively.
Gray blends slow-burning tension with intense bursts of action, and ensures that McBride’s adventure has enough unique creative flourishes to set it apart from others in the genre. The world-building on display is also very impressive, with the movie operating in an immersive and believable near-future.
Brad Pitt is in fine form as the man famed for his calm and measured demeanour whose own personal Heart of Darkness sees his defining characteristics repeatedly challenged and called into question.
Ad Astra tackles the complexities of space travel and humanities’ place in the universe, but also focuses on very human emotions of loss and acceptance. The contrast between complex topics and intimate experiences of abandonment and understanding is deftly handled, giving us a film that feels both intensely epic and deeply personal at the same time.