Ad Astra is a spectacle of breathtaking visuals complemented with an alluring score weaved into a gripping tale of grief and loss. Now this slow-burn might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who take a risk, you’ll be rewarded for your patience. Brad Pitt gives his best performance of 2019 (yes, even better than Once Upon A Time In Hollywood). Writer/Director James Gray demonstrates a keen understanding of not only pacing in the film but a cracking narrative which makes space travel secondary. This is a film about relationships above anything else.
So what’s Ad Astra mostly about? Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. His journey will uncover secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. What stood out first and foremost to me was just how empty Pitt’s character was. He’s had minimal contact with anyone and Mcbride’s focus was always on the mission. What’s ironic is he ventures into the most significant void in the world (space) to seek out answers to why he has emptiness in his own life.
Pitt walked a fine line between being stoic and the pain his character faced stemming from his father (Tommy Lee Jones) leaving them. Hoyte Van Hoytema’s cinematography provided captivating visuals mixed in withfe a delicious color pallette which in its own way paid homage to 2001 Space Odyssey and Apocalypse Now. Max Richter’s score served as the perfect thread that held this piece together. No one who has heard the score is shocked that Richter is currently being talked of as an Oscar front runner.
Above all else, Ad Astra found beauty in the sadness which surrounded Roy’s life. Ad Astra is the type of film which the longer I’m away from it, the more I like it.