This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Caleb Simmons’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I was floored by this movie. My anticipation for this film has been growing ever since it was first green lit a while back. As its release came closer I feared I had placed my expectations too high and would be disappointed, or at the very least underwhelmed. It exceeded my expectations.
First of all, Hoyte Van Hoytema crushed it. Looking back at his previous work (Interstellar and Dunkirk) I should not have been surprised. There are a dozen shots in this film that I want framed and hanging on my wall right now. The opening shot which utilizes the glare of the sun to refract the colors of light to create a beautiful image. The vastness of space is a daunting canvas on which to create a piece of cinematic art, but Hoytema was not timid. The wide shots on planets or in the midst of outer space are remarkable. The shot of Rory and his father wrestling, physically and emotionally, within the immense expanse of the cosmos is beautifully haunting and will never leave my mind.
While it will be very easy to dismiss and dislike Pitt's cold and calculated performance as Rory McBride, I found it terrific. While it may have not been outwardly impressive, the way he represented and portrayed the inner turmoil and existential crisis was fantastic.
By far, the writing and thematic arcs of this movie were my favorite part. Gray obviously has an affinity for characters driven by obsession and detachment from society and culture. His dissection and examination of the human psyche and our relationship to the question and eventual answer of whether we are alone or not is fascinating. The mirroring and simultaneous opposition of Pitt and Jones' characters' philosophical and existential arcs is something I feel like I rarely see executed to the degree as it is in this movie.
My mind will continue to process this movie for weeks, maybe months...but it most certainly is a film that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The next time I wonder if we are alone in this galaxy or universe, the relentless pursuit of Rory and Clifford McBride will be in the back of my mind.
James Gray, you are a modern Kubrick.