Review: The Aeronauts

What do you want to become when you grow up? A heroic fireman/firewoman, a creative baker or an immensely successful businessman/businesswoman? Well, Amelia Wren and James Glaisher give a different answer to the question. Amelia wants to become a pilot of a big air balloon while scientist James dreams of being able to predict the weather. They come from diverse backgrounds and have many peculiar ideas but when they come together, their ideas become even more ambitious. We can’t deny this newest work from Tom Harper (Wild Rose, War Book) telling their true story is an ambitious project as well. Thanks to the extremely wonderful performances of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones The Aeronauts would have flown incredibly high… if the first part was only as great as the second one.

Up in the air

Both living in London in 1862, Amelia (Felicity Jones) and James (Eddie Redmayne) are trying to change the society in which they live. She wants to prove that females can become professional pilots, while he’s excited to show the world that the limits of knowledge are endless. Who thought that a party encounter between them would be the start of something new? Together they want to fly a hot air balloon to the newest heights. Heights that no one has ever reached before. After months of preparations, it’s finally time to take their baby into the air. Surrounded and encouraged by the London audience, friends and acquaintances, they’re about to realize their dream. It’s a dream that might become a nightmare as James his weather predictions weren’t as accurate as they should have been.

It looks like it might be over for Amelia and James but you always have to keep your head held high. The hope they share seems to be bigger than the unpredictable weather. After a time of insecurity and fear, the voyage takes a quieter and beautiful turn. It’s finally time for them to enjoy the beautifulness, the peacefulness, and the amazing sky. But as any Londoner knows, the weather can change from one moment to another. Sadly, that’s exactly what happens and Amelia and James have to take drastic actions. Actions that might have catastrophic consequences…

Flying to a cinema near you (credit: Amazon Studios)

Fabulous chemistry between Jones and Redmayne

If you saw the previous collaboration between Jones and Redmayne The Theory of Everything then you know that they can deliver fireworks. What that film had was a lot of emotions, touching moments and tons of chemistry between the leading characters. This is exactly what The Aeronauts has but sadly not as much as in The Theory of Everything. Don’t get us wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the performances of Jones and Redmayne. Jones (On the Basis of Sex, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) is captivating, charming and terrific as the determined and fearless pilot who’s not afraid to show her emotions and making emotional decisions. This character thread is even more explored during the second part of the film when Amelia is becoming even more determined and a fighter as it becomes a flight of life and death.

Just as in The Theory of Everything, Redmayne (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, The Danish Girl) is playing a genius whose knowledge knows no boundaries and who’s not afraid to put his knowledge and wisdom out there. In this film, it’s Jones who takes the emotional upper hand but that doesn’t mean that Redmayne’s performance isn’t emotional, charismatic and extremely well-performed as well.

Cinematography is the brightest star

While director Harper can count on those big stars, the brightest one of his team is cinematographer George Steel (Robin Hood, Peaky Blinders). Right from the very beginning, Steel has us in his power thanks to the vibrant and engagement colours. He keeps us engaged with the gorgeous and visually stunning blue sky or the cold and turbulent end scenes. We step into the balloon with the leading characters instantly thanks to his work.

Reach for potential heights

After flying by the Telluride Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, The Aeronauts made a stop in the UK during the BFI Film Festival London. If you’ve missed it, then we have good news for you. This wondrous film is released in UK cinemas on the 4th of November. We recommended that you watch this movie on the biggest screen possible, entirely for the stunning cinematography of Steel. The film itself might have a sluggish start but once Jones and Redmayne are up in the air, it takes you on an incredibly exciting flight.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Also Read: Sorry We Missed You: Films and the North

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