The Aeronauts – up, up, and away in an immersive expedition ★★★

Tom Harper tells the story, based on true events, of two aeronauts: one is strong-willed scientist James Galisher (Eddie Redmayne) and the other a young widow Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones). What seemed like a relatively safe effort to break the balloon altitude record soon takes a perilous turn due to unforgiving weather conditions.

It’s hard to critique Redmayne and Jones’ on-screen relationship, as was the case with their dynamic performance in ‘The Theory of Everything’ (2014). Amelia’s light-hearted and charming personality is perfectly contrasted by James’ independent and composed aura. While romance appears to be a possibility in several scenes, the two characters never break the tether of a sincerely platonic friendship. This absence of romance facilitates a simpler and smoother transition to and from the flashbacks used throughout the film. Harper gives equal consideration to the past and the present. It is through an insight into the past that we learn that James and Amelia’s late husband struggled to be accepted in the scientific community. Romance would only entangle the plot, reducing it to a cliché melodrama.

Felicity Jones’ performance is by far the most endearing. She cleverly balances the vulnerability and determination of the character, augmenting the film’s elegance. While Redmayne also plays a lead role, his importance to the plot is minimized as Jones takes the spotlight.

While The Aeronauts’ charm is dazzling, I fear that its immersiveness can only be felt on the big screen. The beautiful and hypnotic cinematography complemented by the soundtrack plays well in a theatre, but is likely to be underwhelming outside of a cinema. Those who expect a high-stakes adventure film may find the plot disappointing, but Harper makes up for it with his artistic range

While the film fails to surpass a typical adventure film, it is likeable and will keep audiences entertained throughout. Harper combines the flashbacks, drama, mediocre tension, and heart-warming moments to produce memorable and exciting performances. That being said, the moments are not nearly as exciting as they could have been.

Harper’s sympathetic rendition of the plot is engaging, yet I can’t help but feel that the film is, in many ways, predictable.


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