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Film Review: The Aeronauts (2019)

The Aeronauts (2019) is a biographical drama that focuses on the study of meteorology in the nineteenth-century. Directed by Tom Harper (who directed Wild Rose earlier this year), this film brings back the pairing of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the lead roles. Scientist James Glaisher (Redmayne) and pilot Amelia Wren (Jones) go in a hot-air balloon to explore heights that nobody before them has in a quest to discover weather prediction.

The Aeronauts (2019) – source: Amazon Studios

This film is pushing for screenings in IMAX through the UK, and I can definitely understand why. Visually, this film is stunning. Not only did I buy the visual effects of this film throughout, but the technical aspects of this film from production and costume design to the cinematography help makes every frame of this film feel authentic to the nineteenth-century and is stunning to watch.

There should be no surprise to this, but the performances here are solid particularly by the leads. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones have such good chemistry together, but it may actually be Jones for me who shines in this film. Despite seeming like a film about meteorology, I actually felt like this film was focused on Amelia and her character arc. It is very compelling and she has several different layers that she has to peel back in her performance, and it is a very raw performance that she gives here.

There have been several biopic films released in the year, and yet this one does feel like a story that is fairly unknown and deserves to have a film told about it. Unlike musical biopics or stories about major events, this is a story that I know pretty much nothing about before going into the cinema. I like it when filmmakers take quite unknown yet important stories and are able to share them to a larger audience in a film that will overall please them.

The Aeronauts (2019) – source: Amazon Studios

There are, however, a lot of problems with this film and the biggest issue comes to the messy narrative structure. This film is filled with flashbacks and jumping between timelines, and yet both parts of the story never truly feel connected. There are several storylines that James has with his family and fellow colleagues, and yet they never truly feel brought into the sequences in the hot-air balloon. They almost serve no purpose, either narratively or in terms of character development, and I felt almost no emotional connection with the flashbacks aside from the main subplot for Amelia.

As I mentioned earlier in my review, this is an interesting subject matter to have turned into a film. However, I really didn’t find myself getting much information about the study of meteorology, rather than it just being a plot to drive the narrative of the film. I didn’t come out of the film suddenly having an admiration for the science of weather prediction or an understanding of how it became to be a thing, rather than it helped create a film with beautiful cinematography and a way for the characters to embark on this journey.

If you are looking for a new and refreshing take to the biopic, this is not it. This performs basically in the same manner that The Current War did a few months ago, just with a shorter runtime. The characters and conflicts all feel overdone and cliché, the story is very simple in its presentation and they heavily push for conflict here that feels forced and overly-dramatic, not matching with the tone of the rest of the film.

The Aeronauts (2019) – source: Amazon Studios

Whilst the narrative may feel confused at times and there is a lack of interest in the field of meteorology presented here, I still did end up enjoying this film. This film is beautiful to look at and provides enough development to the lead characters that you end up caring about their journey and their relationship. This is a sweet little film to watch on a quiet afternoon, and if that is what you need amongst the blockbusters and heavy dramas then this may be a good choice for you.


Did you get a chance to check out The Aeronauts? Were you impressed by the visual effects or did the narrative leave you wanting more from this biopic? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s have a discussion.

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