The idea to reunite Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones is a solid one in theory, reuniting any pair that have proven themselves to have formidable chemistry can seem like a good idea in theory, but can be risky in practise.
The last time these two were opposite each other on screen was in 2014’s The Theory of Everything, a film which brought them both much acclaim, especially Redmayne, who won the Best Actor Oscar the following year. The pair exhibited extremely strong chemistry on screen, and I’m surprised it’s taken this long to pit them back together.
Besides the fact that Redmayne plays a real-life scientist in both films, there’s not much else to link them apart from its leads, it’s not so much of a biopic of its subject as a detailed retelling of one particular incident, all of which put together makes for a promising start, but let’s see how the result pans out.
In 1865, meteorologist James Glaisher persuades a famous aeronaut, Amelia Rennes, who lost her husband in a previous ballooning accident to take him on an expedition.
While the premise and the idea of reuniting these two, undoubtedly talented, actors is a strong one, I can’t help but feel its lacking something in its execution.
The problem, I believe, is in the lack of narrative tension, even though we see the characters in clear peril, we never truly feel that pressure on them. The films builds itself around showing the lovely views up in the sky, but on the occasion when that sky turns hostile, it never feels like there’s a true threat; there’s no build-up towards the danger it just happens, and therefore the characters never feel like they’re in true peril.
It also suffers from a lack of stimulating events in the middle, it has the interesting aspect of showing the flight in real time, but never truly takes advantage of this, and the flashbacks interwoven into the narrative are token at best, barely stringing the events together with any palpable energy.
What this results in is a film that feels a lot slower than it actually is. Clocking in at around 100 minutes (or one hour and forty) it’s hardly the years longest film, but its sometimes glacial pacing will make it feel that way. I’ve seen films this year that are over an hour longer that feel better paced and more energetic.
It’s not all bad though, I did like the cinematography in the film, specifically the scenes showing the balloon flight are breathtaking, and the acting is also strong, more so from Redmayne than Jones I must admit, who at times seemed a tad wooden, but in fairness to her, brought some real life to the film in its final third.
All of these things together leaves me feeling apathetic towards The Aeronauts, it doesn’t make me feel any worse disposed to the creatives involved, as the effort is obvious, but sadly that effort is misplaced into an often dull, poorly-paced slog.