Once a fortnight I go up to Leeds and spend a couple of weeks with the team I work with there. As I have gotten to know them all better we have started socialising together in the evenings, which makes being away from home that little bit more pleasant. This week we decided to go to the cinema. The Trinity Shopping Centre in Leeds city centre has an Everyman theatre, which is my fave because you can get a giant burger brought directly to your cinema sofa seat. The theatres are small so there are usually only a handful of movies showing. We had a limited time frame so The Aeronauts was our best pick although none of us really knew anything about it.
It’s 1862 and scientist James Glashier (Eddie Redmayne) is desperate to make a hot air balloon voyage into the atmosphere to collect samples in his goal to predict the weather. Unfortunately he is the laughing stock of his college who think his ideas are impossible… and he needs a pilot to fly the balloon. He has his sights set on Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) but Amelia is still suffering from trauma related to her last balloon flight that ended in the death of her husband.
Eventually the mismatched pair take to the air to try and break the record of the highest ever ascent but with the elements and their own ambitions against them they’ll face a death defying challenge that neither of them could imagine.
There are some films that it’s best to see on the big screen and this is certainly one of them. There are two major plus points for The Aeronauts. The first is the relationship and interactions between James and Amelia. They start off as sparring partners but as they journey continues they develop a reliance on each other that is heartwarming to watch. Redmayne and Jones continue the wonderful chemistry they established in The Theory of Everything and both give accomplished performances. The other winner is the visual effects. I have overcome a lot of my fear of heights but my heart was in my mouth for half of the film. I honestly felt like I had to watch parts of it through my hands. It was anxiety inducing, edge of your seat magic. I am not sure the effect would be quite the same on a smaller screen but I left knowing that I will never get into a hot air balloon in my life ever.
There is a fair amount of controversy over the historical accuracy of this film. Glashier is a real person and the voyage he undertook is real. However he was accompanied by a male pilot. Obviously some people have their knickers in a twist about this being some kind of feminist plot to discredit the achievements of men. To that I say that there were female balloonists piloting balloons at the time and cinema is historically rife with white-washing and man-washing so frankly, fuck off. Unrelated, I appreciated the historical accuracy of Amelia having hairy armpits.
I enjoyed this film an unexpected amount and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something both exciting and uplifting.