It’s fair to assume that Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts verges on the twee side of life. Or rather, that was my assumption. A Victorian-set film starring Jones and Redmayne who were already in 2014’s The Theory of Everything could suggest that. It just sounds a bit – wholesome.
And, to a certain extent it was – but don’t let that dissuade you. Jones plays fictional pilot Amelia Wren who teams up with Redmayne’s real-life scientist James Glaisher to tackle the skies in search of discoveries about the weather. They each have their own setbacks – no one believes in Glaisher’s predictions and Jones’s character battles with fear and heartbreak over a former accident. Once up in the air, however, they soon get more than they bargained for as they deal with the elements and…..each other. The other characters were brilliantly cast – my favourites being Wren’s sister played by Phoebe Fox and Glaisher’s counterpart, John Trew, played by Himesh Patel. I’ve since read that Jones’s leading lady character was a stand in for Glaisher’s real-life co-pilot Henry Coxwell. Together, Coxwell and Glaisher, like Jones and Redmayne, soared to the height of jumbo jets. Equipped with carrier pigeons (who swiftly died), weather gauging instruments and a bottle of brandy. I was disappointed that Jones’s character wasn’t real. I knew it was too good to be true that such an inspiring and capable woman would be able to pop off and pilot a few massive balloons back then. But I guess it doesn’t really matter. The film’s a visual masterpiece, Felicity Jones is stunning in front of the camera and I thought their chemistry was brilliant – despite the very harsh opinions of some film critics (stop being such negative Natalies).
Visually, the film is stunning. Though it’s not for anyone with vertigo as the camera angling over the edge of the basket can make your stomach turn. I sat there wondering how the hell they’d filmed these scenes – they looked so life-like and beautiful as the characters, along with their balloon, both physically and, at times, mentally, floated through above the clouds. The balloon’s storyline is undercut with flashbacks to the character’s pasts and how they ended up on their respective adventures. It broke up the journey nicely – often making the audience forget that this ride was less than 80 minutes long and not something that lasted an eternity.
The important thing I think about a film is how it made me feel afterwards. And I came out of The Aeronauts feeling above the clouds myself. Alright, perhaps not that animated but I walked through the foyer with a spring in my step. Harper’s film reminded me that we all have our battles – big and small – physical and metaphorical. That life’s a journey and, with a little perseverance, the storm will pass. He inspires you to take that leap of faith and to start that adventure.
Oh, and, look after your dads. You’ll see what I mean when you watch it.