Ad Astra (2019)
The greatest stories all take from the same elements. The same motifs, the same themes. Only they seek to elevate them. To aim higher.
In Ad Astra, we continue on a journey. A cinematic journey, one that we’ve taken over the last 50 years, as an audience, through 2001, Gravity, Interstellar, and countless others. Each itself a bold endeavor to go farther than we’ve gone before.
Brad Pitt is a supernova, a star beyond stars. One whose very name seems impervious to the sands of our time.
He does, with little or no words, more than what most actors could do with 5 minutes of screen-time. A simple look, a subtle nod. His presence and his poise have made him infinitely rewatchable over the years.
Yet it all feels at a distance. There’s an internalization. You sense that there’s more going on inside.
And so the film’s use of voice-over heightens it’s star. It allows us to slip into his mind. A cool, calm, calculated man, whose accolades and achievements should give him all the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment in the world.
They don’t. And so we dive deeper, further, to unravel the threads. In a world where bravado and masculinity are commonplace for leading men, it’s pain and vulnerability that Pitt balances so brilliantly.
I believe that science-fiction is one of our last bastions of modern art. When done well, I find little narrative work to be as admirable, because while each film will have their own monumental set-pieces and unending scale, they will ultimately be reflections of ourselves. Of man persisting in the face of failure. And of himself. We only go, as far as we aim to go.
I find few better allegories when it comes to that persistence, than Ad Astra.