Monday, 4 September 2017

Review: The Astronaut Farmer

From the opening shots of a middle-aged man striding through farmland wearing a Mercury era spacesuit, you know you are in for something pleasingly offbeat with The Astronaut Farmer.

Thornton plays Charlie Farmer, a man who for family reasons had to leave the NASA astronaut programme.  But the urge to go to outer space has never left him, and so he decides to build his own rocket.  The endeavour sits on a suspenseful line between quixotic and credible.

The wordplay in the title works on multiple levels. There's the slightly groan-worthy allusion - the principle character is a farmer called Farmer who wants to be an astronaut. But Charlie's obsession has also come to dominate his family's life and is perhaps cultivating future space ambitions in his offspring.

Thornton plays his role with quiet determination. Special note must go the two Polish sisters who give some of the most naturalistic child performances I've seen on screen.

With judicious use of lens flare, stunning location photography and grading, the production team manage to conjure up a sense of the majesty of space without leaving Earth.

Verdict: Eccentric space-dream drama.

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