Ad Astra (2019)
Directed by James Gray; Starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland
By Tim Basaraba
Clearly Ad Astra filmmaker James Gray grew up on Kubrick, Jodorowsky and Tarcovsky. His 2019 Ad Astra film echoes his heroes visually with stunning clarity and optical wonderment.
Brad Pitt caries a heavy load as the only actor with prominent screen time. He does well with minimal, albeit corny, lines, letting a voice over of his internal dialogue do most of the story telling. This recalls another director that Gray must be fond of, Terrence Malick. It’s an approach that gives us glimpses into what Pitt’s character is thinking alongside our view of his onscreen actions, both which are extremely stoic.
When solid filmmakers have superb taste in idols it doesn’t always mean every film they make will be enjoyable. Gray used the vast reaches of space as a way to reflect daddy issues and an existential crisis, but fell short of coupling his artistic vision with an engaging story like the greats he admires.
If we’re grading on a curve then 2001 a Space Odyssey is an A, Solaris is a B+, Holy Mountain is a B, and Ad Adstra is a D+