Space. The fictional frontier.
Also sometimes fantastical. But always very expansive.
Expansive plays heavily into the overall theme of Ad Astra, or what I like to call BRad Astra, with Brad Pitt calling upon the audience to join him on this journey.
And this journey is not short friends, as it is a cerebrum-laden tour of space, familial trauma, hopes, burdens and a hugely overbearing sense of loneliness.
But boy is it worth it.
A man journeys across a lawless solar system to find his missing father; A renegade scientist who poses a threat to humanity.
Alternatively this film could be titled DAd Astra, as it’s just as much about the dynamism of parental burden, than it is about space.
Space in many respects works as a foil to Pitt’s emotional state; A sort of layer that peels away ever so slowly as he labours onward across the literal galaxy.
Tasked with finding his father who may or may not have run away to discover the secrets of the universe, leaving his wife and son behind, the film is intentional in the psychology of Pitt’s character, Major Roy H. McBride.
An action-packed starting hands off to this, as the film threatens McBride’s stability; His mental state unraveling like the mystery of his journey.
Pitt is at his best, eerie in his calm and melancholic in his travel. The film relies on him heavily and the minute interactions he has across the expanse. Often you will have an encounter suddenly drop to emptiness, influencing these moments as something to remember and forget.
Director James Gray‘s grasp on the intent of this being science-fiction rather than science-fantasy, sees a more grounded film. With its intent in being our world and rules, it only works to make space more consuming of the traveler and their time.
And ultimately, we end up becoming this traveler. The dread of loneliness sneaks its way upon you, blanketing you slowly until it covers your body. Never have I been surrounded in a cinema and felt so alone as I have with this film.
This adds to the overall experience, and as it envelopes you and delivers unto you that you are the hopes and burdens of your parents and past, you begin to let go.
Shimmering solitude and realisation strips the conclusion back to simplicity, and asks you to rebuild yourself. And in that, in those connections, maybe space isn’t so lonely after all.
Visually immense and almost the same psychologically, AD ASTRA looks to ask us if crossing space is enough to resolve your childhood traumas.
Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't, but it's a helluva ride as it goes.