The Aeronauts: Film Review

I loved The Theory of Everything so I was thrilled to see Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunited on screen for The Aeronauts. I had heard so-so things about the film but I quite liked it.

The film is set in London in 1862 and follows scientist James Glaisher (Redmayne) and pilot Amelia Rennes (Jones) as they fly a gas balloon higher than ever before so he can learn more about air and the weather.

The premise is simple but effective. The majority of the film is set inside the basket of the balloon as we watch James and Amelia get to know each other and fight for survival when the balloon goes higher than 36,000 feet – well beyond the 23,000 feet record – and they encounter frostbite and dangerously thin air.

The visual effects are impressive. You really feel like you’re thousands of feet up in the air with them. I grimaced whenever they leaned out of the basket and held my breath when Amelia had to climb up the outside of the balloon. That scene was shot in such a jaw-dropping way – definitely not one for those who are scared of heights.

It was lovely seeing these two back together on screen again – their chemistry is great. Redmayne was fine enough but Jones was the star of the show as she had a more well-rounded character who was very independent and outspoken for her time and did the heavy lifting emotionally, as she is still mourning her late husband, a fellow pilot, while her character is also put through the wringer physically. Phoebe Fox and Himesh Patel offer support as her sister Antonia and James’ good friend John, respectively.

However, I did have an issue with the use of flashbacks. The film begins with them setting off on their record-breaking attempt and we learn more about them via flashback. I do love a bit of context so these were welcome at first but then they became annoying as they were getting in the way of the main event. There were too many and some were unnecessary, distracting and dropped in at odd places.

The Aeronauts starts off as a lovely period film and then becomes this thrilling survival movie in the second half and I was relieved for this change of pace. It was dramatic, there were a few decent laughs, and the conclusion was satisfying.

In cinemas now 

Rating: 4/5

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