SAVFF REVIEW — “The Aeronauts”
How’s the weather up there?
The Aeronauts is directed by Tom Harper, written by Jack Thorne and stars Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Himesh Patel and Tom Courtenay. It tells the story of Daredevil pilot Amelia Rennes and weather scientist James Glaisher, who find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a gas balloon. This past week we were lucky enough to attend the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and their opening night festival was The Aeronauts! How was it you ask? Pretty good! Despite some of the more formulaic elements, The Aeronauts is an inventive and engaging adventure with two strong performances from Jones and Redmayne.
Tom Harper is directing here and he does a fine job. He actually does some pretty interesting and ambitious things with the rather standard material. Harper combines these seemingly separate genres into one film here, and while at times it can kinda give the film an identity crisis, it’s pretty interesting to watch. At times, this feels like a Disney movie, with glossy CGI and quippy characters, and then it’ll completely shift gear and turn into a survival film and then switch to a fantasy adventure. One second you’re watching Dumbo, and next, you’re watching Cast Away. He makes really bold choices here, and I can’t help but admire his work. That being said, this largely lacks style and I can’t help but feel like in the hands of a weirder and more eccentric director, this could have been something really special. The script, by Jack Thorne, is pretty paint by numbers and lacks any real emotion. At times he hints at something deeper, but the film never really goes for it. Regardless, Harper does a fine job.
The cast all does a pretty solid job. Felicity Jones is charming as ever and Eddie Redmayne delivers another performance in his string of awkward and endearing men. While neither of these characters are too challenging, especially for two actors of this caliber, they make them pretty entertaining to watch. However, I can’t shake the thought that Redmayne’s talent could only grow if he took on a new and more challenging character. I’m not mad Eddie, just disappointed. We know you can play awkward and vulnerable, let’s see something new. I’m only saying this because I love you, buddy. Himesh Patel also does a pretty solid job. He’s not on screen much, but he’s just a nice face to see.
On a technical level, The Aeronauts is pretty interesting. As I previously mentioned there are quite a few changes in tone and style and it’s pretty apparent. At times this looks like an ugly Disney remake, and at others, it looks like an impression of a Terrence Malik film. It’s quite an odd choice and doesn’t always work, but it certainly makes the film a lot more interesting than it probably should have been. That’s kinda a good sentiment for the whole film. The Aeronauts isn’t great, but it’s a whole lot better than it deserves to be. 3/5