In a bleak vision of the near future, Earth is being ravaged by environmental disaster and the people still living on the planet are seeing one crop after the other die out. In that light, former pilot and widow Roger Cooper is forced to be a farmer tasked with growing corn and providing for his two children Tom (15) and Murph (10). But he still has secret dreams of flying and making scientific discoveries.
Murph, who is possibly the world's smartest 10-year-old, notices something strange about her room when one day a model spaceship and some books fall off her shelf without an apparent reason. She calls it her 'ghost' and her family doesn't believe her - until one day a sandstorm takes place and a message is written on her floor in binary. An unknown intelligence is sending coded messages using gravitational waves. The numbers turn out to be coordinates - and thus the adventure of his life is set in motion for Cooper. The coordinates lead to a top-secret NASA facility where Cooper is reunited with an old university professor - who then invites him to embark on a journey into space. The mission is to find a new planet for humankind, as the situation on Earth is much worse than was initially thought. Cooper must leave his children behind for unknown time, something that falls particuarly bad with Murph. It is clear from the beginning that Cooper and Murph share a very special father-daughter relationship, and this becomes one of the movies strongest running themes.
The best thing about Interstellar is probably its visuals. The storyline itself is not that subtle - there are a lot of movies about post-apocalyptic worlds and humans being forced to look for a new planet. The movie has long dialogue scenes where characters discuss complicated theoretical physics, and if you're not a scientist, it can be a bit mind-blowing. The movie does not explain what tesseracts and wormholes are and assumes that the viewer has some knowledge about relativity and space-time. Thus, its a movie that you really need to get your head around, and all the action does not leave a lot of space for humour.
But the movie makes up for it - amongst the scientific parts of the movie, there are also elements of philosophy and emotion. The strongest is the connection between Cooper and Murph. When Cooper and his team land on a planet where one hour is seven years on Earth, circumstances force them to stay longer and by the time they leave, 23 Earth years have passed. Cooper gets to watch a video message where his adult son tearfully tells him he's letting him go (which may seem heartless - until you realize that on Earth they haven't heard anything from Cooper for decades) and finally Murph appears. Today's her birthday and she's now 33 - the same age as Cooper was when he left. She's now also a scientist working at the NASA facility, trying to crack an equation that will solve the problem of gravity and save humankind.
Science and emotion interweve almost perfectly. What is love? Is one of the questions that matter-of-fact astronaut Amelia Brand asks. Does it mean something more, something humans cannot yet understand? Brand is in love with an astronaut named Wolf Edmunds, who is situated on another planet to find out if its habitable for humans. Love, according to her, is the one thing that can transcend across dimensions, including time. Is there an explanation for being drawn across the universe to someone who might be dead?
We find the answer to this in the climax of the movie, which is the most complicated part, but also the most beautiful. Love and science intergrate again - 'my connection with Murph, it is quantifiable! It's the key!' Cooper exclaims. As in most movies, love is the answer to the problem (yes, apparently also in movies that involve quantum physics) but its done in a creative way for sure.
The movie might be heavy-handed, and not everything adds up. I'm no scientist, I admit I don't know which parts of the movie are based on real scientific theories and possible future scenario's, and what is pure science-fiction. But it definitely sounded believable. You cannot help but shed a tear towards the end. I rooted for Cooper almost instantly, and young Murph was just adorable. A must-watch.