I’ve been a fan of Eddie Redmayne since he played Marius in the 2012 Les Miserables, and I’ve absolutely LOVED watching him portray Newt in the Fantastic Beasts series, so I was interested in The Aeronauts as soon as I saw he was in it. After watching the trailer, I was a little concerned I’d already seen the whole movie, but it turned out to be worth the watch (don’t mind IMDb’s 6.6/10 rating — they’re wrong).
In essence, it’s an adventure story that follows a real scientist, Henry Glaisher (Redmayne), in his real efforts to further the science of the skies — before it was widely known as meteorology — by way of a dramatized hot air balloon expedition with the flamboyant and sadly fictional pilot, Amelia Wren (Jones). You can read more about the historical background in this Time article, which I only discovered because I was so inspired by Wren that I desperately wanted her to be real, rather than an amalgamation of people like Amelia Earhart, Margaret Graham, Sophie Blanchard and Henry Tracy Coxwell. And even though there was no Amelia Wren, I think my response is a testament to the quality of the character director Tom Harper and co-writer Jack Throne created.
A big part of what delighted me about this movie was its structure. I’ve been reading Save the Cat! (a fantastic guidebook for all storytellers, in my opinion), and decided to check The Aeronauts against Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet (BS2) as I was watching it. While this practice may have increased the film’s predictability, I found myself pleased to find that the story hit all the beats in just about the expected order, and still kept me on the edge of my seat at all the right parts.
In the trailer, you’ll see a reviewer describing The Aeronauts as “Gravity meets Free Solo,” and though I haven’t seen the latter, this seems to be a reasonable comparison. There’s drama, love and loss, realism and historical significance, female empowerment and the championing of the underdog archetype, and just straight-up adventure, which I found highly entertaining. Plus, Redmayne and Jones did a phenomenal job displaying fear and desperation and overall emotion at all the right points (which I imagine is even harder to do when filming in a studio with a green screen, though there are a lot of true airborne shots, according to this Hollywood Reporter article).
Honestly, the only thing I didn’t like — and if someone can explain this to me, please do — is how neither Henry nor Amelia brought gloves or winter hats on the expedition. While Ms. Wren pointing out Glaisher’s unpreparedness is an overt illustration of one of his character flaws, her own failures in that department didn’t make sense.
All in all, I thought it was a good movie, and I would watch it again. (There’s more I’d like to say, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.) Also, I still need to see them in The Theory of Everything, but it sounds like Redmayne and Jones are a good combination, and I look forward to seeing more movies with the pair of them.
Copyright © 2019, Cait Buxbaum