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Jeri Jacquin
Coming to theatres from writer/director Tom Harper and Amazon Studios is a look at two people who are ready to take to the skies with THE AERONAUTS.
It is l862 and James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) is an  obsessed meteorologist and has a theory about weather along with friend John Trew (Himesh Patel). Wanting to go up in a balloon to test out his theories, he needs to find a pilot. Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) is a widow after losing her husband in a balloon. Locking herself away from everyone, it is her sister Antonia (Phoebe Fox) that gets her back into life where she meets Glaisher.
He tells her of his ideas and she is the show-woman who can make the ride news worthy and a spectacle keeping everyone interested. Loading his instruments on the balloon basket, he waits for Amelia to show up and when she does the entertainment begins. Glaisher isn’t the loud and shouting type and just wants to get off the ground secretly wanting to prove to his father that it can be done.
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Almost immediately the two begin butting heads but it’s a long business ahead. With each mile they go up, they begin to learn something about one another. Glaisher almost immediately begins to make weather observations and sends messages to Trew by carrier pigeon. The caution to this is that the higher they go, the more danger awaits them.
Life and death decisions are being made as both try to hang on to the reason the journey was made in the first place. The struggle begins with not knowing what happens if you go just a bit higher, and then a bit more!
They are about to find out!
Redmayne as Glaisher is a scientist definitely stuck in his ways. He sees things very analytically and with a no nonsense approach. Trying to maintain his standards proves to be a challenge when he asks Wren to be his balloon pilot. Trying to focus on the journey, he is more often sidetracked in not truly understanding what he is undertaking but at least his notes are meticulous. Redmayne continues his streak of worthy roles and plays his part with believability.
Jones as Amelia is a woman who is hiding so much pain. An entertainer with a flair for show-womanship, she makes sure this flight is worthy of all eyes. Daring and, in Glaisher’s eyes careless, she knows what the balloon can do and how to navigate the air. Of course all of this is covering up something horrible that has happened in her life and being 36,000 miles plus up in the air, she has no choice but to face it.
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Patel as Trew sees what Glaisher is trying to do, he just isn’t sure why he needs to jump in a balloon to do it. Happy to keep his feet firmly on the ground, Patel gives his character a little bit of grounded sense (because we all know not many of us would do it!). Fox as Antonia may not understand what it is her sister does, but she certainly supports it and her.
Other cast include: Tim McInnerny as Airy, Rebecca Front as Aunt Frances, Anne Reid as Ethel Glaisher, Lewin Lloyd as Charlie, Vincent Perez as Pierre Rennes, Robert Glenister as Ned Chambers, Thomas Arnold as Charles Green and Tom Courtenay as Arthur Glaisher.
THE AERONAUTS is a delightful and suspenseful ride of a film. This isn’t the first time Redmayne and Jones have worked together so well. They starred together in the 2014 film THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING about physicist Stephen Hawking life. Redmayne played Hawking and Jones played wife Jane. Redmayne won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Jones was nominated for Best Actress.
All the more reason to put these two actors together again for this film. There is a distinct chemistry between them that absolutely works. They carry the storyline of two people in a balloon doing what most would consider impossible at the time and Glaisher’s fellow scientists said just that.
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The cinematography and special effects are stunning and definitely a third character in the film. The colors are vibrant and exceptional to watch as the story and balloon go further and further into detail and into the stratosphere.
Director Harper gives the film such intensity that it’s easy to feel like we are all on the balloon as a silent witness to these characters journey. One particular scene where Glaisher and Wren are in a battle for the balloon to go no further had me holding the sides of my seat. As crazy as it might be to say during the film ‘oh no don’t do that’, it is the daring and hating the word impossible that makes people take leaps of faith. These two couldn’t have taken a larger leap if they tried.
In the end – in the air might be where you find yourself.