For his first five films, writer/director James Gray set his stories in New York City. Makes sense, considering Gray is a born and raised New Yorker, but with his two most recent films, Gray looks far beyond the Burroughs.
Releasing later this week, Ad Astra is a simple story of a father and son set against the backdrop of the cosmos. Tommy Lee Jones plays the father, an explorer who’s belief and commitment to his mission is devout. Brad Pitt is his son, tasked with contacting Dad after he’s gone too far.
There’s a multitude of connections between Ad Astra and Gray’s previous work, The Lost City of Z from 2017. Here, Charlie Hunnam plays British explorer Percy Fawcett: a man tasked with mapping British ruled South America. There, Fawcett hears of a mystical civilization and hidden city and devotes his life to locating it.
The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra are movies about obsession. An obsession that is infectious and easily transferable. What the father cannot accomplish, the son will finish. What the husband fails to do, the wife will continue. For better or for worse, obsessions tend to get the better of us. And our loved ones.
Ad Astra will be released on Sept. 20 (see it in IMAX); The Lost City of Z is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.