Tom Harper (director)
1h 40mins (length)
07 November 2019 (released)
08 November 2019
The last time Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne were in a movie together, they both ended up with Oscar nominations, with Redmayne taking home the gold for 2014's The Theory of Everything.
And while it's unlikely The Aeronauts will achieve the same success as the Stephen Hawking biopic, it was a joy seeing these two reunited once again for this period drama.
The film begins in London in 1862 and follows headstrong scientist James Glaisher (Redmayne) and pilot Amelia Rennes (Jones) as they set off in a gas balloon so he can learn more about the air and weather. He is ridiculed for believing the weather can be predicted, and accordingly, is determined to prove naysayers wrong with the expedition.
Rennes is in charge of controlling the balloon and taking it higher than anyone has ever gone before. Glaisher is a newcomer to such trips and he insists they go higher and higher, despite Rennes's warnings, and they eventually reach beyond 36,000 feet and encounter frostbite, dangerously thin air, and difficulties getting back down.
The premise is simple but effective. The Aeronauts starts as a nice period film and then becomes a thrilling survival movie in the second half. This change of pace was a welcome one.
The visual effects were impressive and managed to make you feel like you're up in the balloon with them. Anyone afraid of heights might not enjoy the moments where they lean out of the basket or climb up the ropes on the outside of the balloon. Viewers will most likely be holding their breath during these scenes!
However, the film was let down by its use of flashbacks. The action begins with them setting off on their record-breaking attempt and we learn more about them using this technique. These were helpful and informative in the beginning as they provided some context but there didn't need to be any once the film turned into the survival thriller. They became annoying, distracting, derailed the pace, and got in the way of the main event.
Redmayne and Jones had great chemistry and it was enjoyable watching their characters soften, learn more about each other and how to work as a team. The Oscar winner gave a fine performance, but his character wasn't as well-rounded or given the opportunity to shine as much as Jones's, which is odd considering Glaisher is a real person whereas Rennes is an amalgam of a few different people.
Jones had much more to work as Rennes, who was very independent and outspoken for her time, and she excels in the role. She had a lot of emotional work too, as Rennes is mourning her late husband Pierre, gets put through the wringer physically, and leads the most dramatic moment.
The Aeronauts offers plenty for audiences to enjoy - a headstrong female lead, a few laughs, thrills, and a satisfying conclusion.