Ad Astra

Showing on Sky Cinema UK and available to stream on most services.

During lockdown I’ve not done much catching up on things I missed at the cinema, however I made an exception for Ad Astra.

Directed by James Gray and starring Brad Pitt on the surface this is a space adventure, Pitt’s Roy McBride is the son of pioneer H. Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones) who captained the deep space Lima Project sent out on mission to Neptune to study the galaxy for life. Thought lost, when strange sonic pulses threaten the fabric of the solar system, it seems they are coming from Lima and that Roy’s father is still alive and that Roy is the person to contact him and bring him in.

While the premise sets up the idea of a space adventure that’s not what Ad Astra is and that’s what I enjoyed, it’s not a story about space but is much more about loneliness, abandonment, desperation to be acknowledged and isolation, not only as individuals but as a species.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s slow moving, the quiet times are, for me, where the interesting things happen, but I appreciate that, that isn’t for everyone.

Pitt portrays the patient and conflicted Roy and this is certainly his film, supported by a particularly grizzled Tommy Lee Jones, who does also shows a level of vulnerability and desperation. Really the entire film is carried by Pitt, he is in pretty much every scene and for large parts the only thing on screen and he does an excellent job of keeping the story moving and engaging.

I imagine it would’ve looked marvellous on the big screen and lost a little of its scale at home, but that didn’t detract from the storytelling

The film is ambitious and interesting and happy to tackle its subject, but it also leaves enough peril and tension to give you more than a character study of Roy battling his inner demons and leave a bit of space adventure too.

Pity to have missed it on the big screen, but glad to have caught up on it nonetheless.

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