The Aeronauts (Harper, 2019): USA

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed at the Telluride Film Festival.

Amazon Studios presented Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in their newest film to an at capacity audience for the world premiere of The Aeronauts, written and directed by Tom Harper, at the 46th Telluride Film at the Werner Herzog Theatre, August 30th, 2019. Set in 1862 London, Redmayne plays an unrespected weather scientist, James Glashier (pronounced like glacier) trying to gain the respect of his peers by attempting to establish a new discipline, meteorology, to predict weather patterns while Jones plays a well-to-do, wealthy, entertainer-adventuress, widower, Amelia Wren, dealing with the recent tragic loss of her husband. What starts out a rather pleasant balloon ride with much fanfare – bringing to mind The Greatest Showman – turns into an epic journey with visual effects reminiscent of the Oscar-winning (7) film Gravity.

As their ascent continues the tension between the Glashier and Wren mounts with intimate truths of each of their lives revealed. Redmayne and Jones are at their best here complementing and treating each other with the utmost respect. But not all in the air is cotton candy and marmalade skies as the elements and weather extract a magnificent toll on the balloonists as they venture ever higher as Glashier insists on continuing his weather readings and documentation while Wren sounds verbal warnings while lending a supporting hand that culminates in death-defying actions that allow the journey to continue with both lives in tact.

The Aeronauts is a fun film with adept visual effects and crafty make-up. Redmayne and Jones’s chemistry hasn’t missed a beat since they teamed up in the intimate relationship film, Theory of Everything, with Redmayne playing famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, with Jones portraying his wife, Jane. In addition, the special effects of rain, hail and snow pummeling the balloon are quite realistic and a kaleidoscope of butterflies is at once surreal and mesmerizing to behold well up into the earth’s atmosphere. Production design was handled by David Hindle and Christian Huband. Art direction was headed by Alice Sutton and George Steel was the film’s cinematographer.

This is a film that is best suited for the big screen – the bigger the better – as IMAX cameras were used to shoot some of the film’s scenes. Moreover, it is a film the entire family can enjoy.  The Aeronauts is highly recommended! But you’re going to have to wait for it.

The theatrical release of the film in the United States is scheduled on December 6, 2019. After a brief run in cinemas the film will debut on Amazon Prime December 20th, 2019.

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