Despite Brad Pitt’s performance, ‘Ad Astra’ lacks excitement


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Yuzuki Okuda, A&E Editor

Ad Astra, released Sept. 20, 2019 and directed by James Gray, takes the audience on the journey with the astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) through the outer corners of the solar system, in search of his stranded and presumably dead father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones). Placed in the future, Roy embarks on a mission in search of not only his father, but also himself when the entire solar system is at risk of an unknown electrical surge. While the film was certainly not a ‘keep you on the edge of your seat’ piece, it showcases Pitt’s acting skill.

In the film, Roy is disconnected from the external world and has difficulty understanding love, in family and relationships. In characterizing him, other characters are mostly pushed to the background, centering the entire movie on Roy. However, because of this, his personality and background is very thoroughly broken down and many of his thoughts being narrated in the background allows the audience to understand him on a personal level. 

Pitt’s versatility as an actor is showed most by his transformation throughout the film. His performance at the beginning of the movie is emotionless. Even in scenes of near death experiences, he narrates what happened in a monotone voice, which at the start, seemed unrealistic. However, as the movie progresses, Pitt shows a shift in emotion as he rethinks his own desires, showing off the depth and humanity in the character. To create a whole movie centered on the internal conflict of character is an extraordinary feat that the movie pulled off very well. This was solely built upon the acting of Pitt and this movie displayed the true potential that he has as an actor.

While the set design and music is used deliberately to spotlight the performance of Pitt, it left the audience feeling unsatisfied and wanting more. Ninety percent of the movie is limited to two locations: space or the desolate space station. Throughout the entire film, there was very little to almost no background music. This silence of space, while also working to give off an eerie vibe of the unknown lurking at any corner, also achieves the effect of being alone and only with yourself and your thoughts. However, while this choice was made purposefully to make the audience also be in silence with the character, it was often times too little to keep the audience engaged for a two hour movie.

While Pitt’s  performance was amazing, since the film is built on Pitt and his character reflecting on himself, just him narrating his emotions in the background lead to lost interest at certain moments. Even though there were attempts at catching the audience’s attention with some action scenes, it lacked the power to suck the audience into the movie and keeping them hooked.

Ad Astra, while posing many interesting ideas, lacked the driving force to keep the movie in motion and the audience interested. While Pitt’s performance was exceptional, the emptiness in the set and music left minds wandering during the film. 

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