Friday, December 6, 2019

Movie with Abe: The Aeronauts

The Aeronauts
Directed by Tom Harper
Released December 6, 2019

Most people these days take for granted how easy it is to hop on an airplane and travel across the world at incredible speeds. It’s also possible to forecast the weather, allowing for planning that increases both safety and comfort. For many years in our history, these things couldn’t even be imagined, and someone had to be bold enough to think outside the box and ask whether such notions as taking off into the air to rise above the clouds or scientifically measuring how weather works could be achieved. Such stories tend to make for very involving and watchable cinema.

In 1862, scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) finds little support from his colleagues and the community at large for his research on predicting the weather, and so he must resort to alternative methods to take to the skies. He convinces pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones), whose last flight ended in tragedy, to join forces with him, and together they ascend to reach unattained heights. Their adventure captures the attention of many onlookers, who wait to catch a glimpse of the balloon after it disappears into the horizon, fully unaware of the unpredictable obstacles and elements that will be faced by its passengers.

This film is based on a true story, though Wren is a fictionalized character representative of a number of women of the time, replacing Glaisher’s real-life male companion Henry Coxwell, who does not appear at all in the film. It’s in the nature of filmmaking to embellish, and in this case the addition of Wren seems excusable since she serves as the film’s primary anchor, bursting onto the scene as a showboat, performing for her audience as Glaisher emphasizes the serious and precarious nature of their work, and gradually reveals layers as they rise to the clouds. The way that this story is framed with these two characters proves effective in enhancing the experience they endure, a journey taken mostly by just the two of them.

This is a reunion for Redmayne and Jones, who last earned Oscar attention together for “The Theory of Everything.” Their dynamic here is much different, and while Redmayne plays his part suitably, Jones is the real star, commanding so many of the film’s scenes and making her invented character feel entirely believable. This film is best compared to “The Walk,” based on Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Twin Towers – a surprisingly compelling portrait of bold, daring minds set on challenging standards created with impressive visual effects that will surely be underappreciated.


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