In 1862, Scientist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) and balloon pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones) embark upon a journey into the sky. Their mission is to float higher than any human while exploring the upper atmosphere. Glaisher looks to prove that weather can be predicted, while Wren seeks to face the ghosts of her husband’s death – together they will further science and find solace in success.
“The Aeronauts” is a scientific adventure about discovery, dreams and danger.
James Glaisher is ridiculed by his scientific colleagues for suggesting that weather can be predicted. He is a man of observation and measures. Amelia Wren still struggles with the tragic loss of her husband in a ballooning accident. Glaisher must force her to confront her pain, fears and loss, but in so doing, awakens the spirited adventurer, transforming her into a vital member of Glaisher’s team and the ultimate reason for their success.
Writer/director Tom Harper turns what was sure to be an uninspired balloon ride into an adventure. The beauty of nature, the quiet power of this planet and the ghosts that haunt both characters are used to fuel this film.
This is one of those films that should be seen on the big screen. The heights are awe-inspiring and gorgeous and the construction of the balloon – a hand-sewn balloon, held together by simple ropes attached to a woven basket creates an underlying tension that is used well.
This story is as much about Wren and Glaisher as it is about their balloon flight. Because of this, neither takes center stage to control the story. It is amazing to behold a simple air balloon climbing into the upper stratosphere, but Glaisher’s observations and notations only reflect upon his character, not the science. As Wren fights to gain Glaisher’s trust and respect, she perfectly reveals the struggles every woman has in this time – and still today.
Jones and Redmayne give strong performances, but their characters are not complex, nor are they a stretch for these skilled actors. Because this is more an action adventure, the characters are not expected to dominate the screen.
This biographical drama is a high adventure – literally. Combining science with breath-taking heights, “The Aeronauts” will bring all of us closer to the stars.