While riding a horse-drawn carriage across London, experienced balloon pilot Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) is hit by traumatic flashbacks of a past aerial journey. But the next moment, she appears flamboyantly confident while holding hands with the anxious meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) on stage, bowing to a cheering crowd who are waiting to witness the duo set a world record in a sky with foreboding grey clouds.
Set in 1862, The Aeronauts tells the story of Glaisher, an ambitious scientist who’s prepared to stretch his limits to make weather more predictable. With support from his academic circle, he sneaks into an uninvited event to beseech experienced aeronaut Amelia to take him to the sky, hoping to measure the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere at the greatest height possible.
Inspired by real events, The Aeronauts is a spectacular and straightforward biopic with some excellent acting and thrilling scenes, but the empowering and fantastical adaptation feels almost too good to be true.
Given a physically and emotionally challenging role, Jones deserves high praise for her flawless performance. Always giving her all, she embodies the fiery, lion-hearted, but sometimes melancholy Amelia with passion and nuance.
Redmayne is cast perfectly as well. He is in his element as a cultured, tenacious but insecure scientist, and again has great chemistry with his former Theory of Everything co-star.
With the majority of scenes filmed in the sky, the well-paced movie features stunning cinematography, bringing its audience on a dangerous but romantic journey in the sky where Amelia slowly opens up to James about her tragic personal history.
While the sincere dialogue between the two is heartfelt and impeccably-delivered, it doesn’t seem very realistic when it takes place on a hot air ballon that might fall at anytime due to the constantly changing climate. The fictionalised biography could have been more emotionally-gripping as well, had the director taken his time to tell Amelia’s story in more detail.
Accompanied by the exceptional cast and visually pleasing shots, The Aeronauts might fly high as a work of art, but not so much as a story.