I went to see the movie The Aeronauts on Monday, November 11th with Alicia Spotkaeff. This movie was visually stunning. The shots of the balloon thousands of feet in the air amongst the clouds were breathtaking and the sights they saw up there were awe-inspiring. I have never really been interested in going up in a hot air balloon before, it seems slow and kind of boring to me. Not that I am not interested in the sky – I have always dreamed of going sky diving – but a hot air balloon doesn’t seem that exciting. After watching The Aeronauts though, I have a feeling my dreams will be full of standing high up in the sky while a kaleidoscope of butterflies passes by me.
While this movie is visually stunning and the actors in it performed beautifully, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing. It begins with an intense piece of editing showing flashes of a man falling from a hot air balloon. From there it launches right in to the story of the day Amelia Wren and James Glashier launched their balloon with the intent to fly higher than anyone had ever flown before. This is an ambitious undertaking and with two incredibly charming and charismatic lead characters, you cannot help but root for them. However, because the beginning scenes show them preparing to take off, the later scenes that show their backstory and struggle to get where they are felt spoiled. We already saw them take off, so watching as everyone told them no and that they were never going to do it had very little impact. I loved those scenes, watching them fight the good fight, so it was a bit disappointing that there was no suspense.
My favorite part about movies set in the past is, without a doubt, the costumes. Watching Amelia and James navigate through the challenges of life both in the air and on the ground is made even more real by the outstanding Victorian era clothing. The scene where the two meet and dance together at a high society party is etched in my head. The room was full of people dressed fancier than the furniture. All the women were in corsets and hoop skirts and the men in coat and tails. This backdrop of period consistent clothing and décor made the movie just that much more beautiful and believable.
I can’t write about this movie however without gushing at least a little bit about the amazing actors who starred in it. Eddie Redmayne gave another wonderful performance as James Glashier. He portrayed Glashiers’ mixture of wonder and ambition with a touch of desperation perfectly. Felicity Jones was the backbone of this story as the brave and daring Amelia Wren. Watching her struggle with the trauma of losing her husband in a ballooning accident come back to haunt her on her next trip into the sky was heart wrenching. The fact that she manages to not only hold herself together, but also save them both was impressive and inspirational. And of course, the most memorable character of all, Posey. The dog who gets thrown from the balloon within the first few minutes of the movie. My heart stopped in my chest watching the poor pup plummet towards the ground, and it didn’t start again until his little parachute deployed and he floated safely down to earth. Alicia and I joked after the movie that if the cute little puppy had perished, we would have walked out of the theater right then! It is very fortunate for us then, that he survived, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen such a wonderful movie!