Ad Astra is a sci-fi film about Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), a celebrated astronaut, who ventures forth out into the wilds of known space to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) and potentially save mankind from utter destruction.
Ad Astra is a film experience like no other. I find it hard to discuss or describe this film. There is a lot going on in my mind about the theme of legacy and how it can affect a person.
Roy McBride (Pitt) is a man defined by his father and his father’s work. For the majority of the film, Roy who has become a legendary astronaut in his own right is constantly hearing about his father. This constantly follows him even though his father up and left his family when Roy was a child.
So Roy is tasked to head to Mars and contact his father. Along the way, the audience learns much about him and his views on people, space, and his father.
Beauty in the minute and the expansive
A brilliant choice by director James Gray is to have Roy narrate his feelings throughout the course of the film. Many films would keep away from the use of an inner monologue as it is better to show than tell but in the case of Ad Astra that is far from it. The combination of Brad Pitt’s, ahem, out of this world acting and the deep, philosophical vernacular of the film makes for something quite extraordinary.
On the topic of performances, the whole film is filled with interesting and noteworthy acting. Pitt leads the film with a deft hand. He’s not charming but he is compelling and I found that engaging throughout the entire film.
The cast is intimate with only one or two other characters but they add further colour to the scenes they are in. What’s fascinating is each new character that is introduced, from Donald Sutherland to Ruth Negga, is accompanied by a colour palette. From the sterilised white for the representative of the government with Sutherland or the roaring rage of Mars that accompanies Negga Ad Astra is full of cinematic beauty.
From an actual car chase on the Moon to a terrifying zero-gravity battle, Ad Astra’s cinematography is brilliant. I can’t praise James Gray and his team’s work on this film enough. I also sadly must state that I don’t think I can ever perfectly articulate why Ad Astra was so impactful.
I will say though that Ad Astra easily has the best score of 2019. The score adds further weight and beauty to both the world of Ad Astra and the characters that live within the film.
I also know that the theme of family isn’t lost on me. Seeing what happens to a person lost in the shadow of their parent is close to many peoples hearts and watching Roy’s journey and the toll it takes on him is a harrowing one.
The only issue I found with this narrative was parts of the climax were predictable and for a film that goes to a lot of places on its journey across the galaxy, I was disappointed.
Ultimately I adored Ad Astra. It was beautiful, intense, confounding and all of it is propelled by a great performance from Brad Pitt. Stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews, and so much more in the film industry.