By Will Ashton | firstname.lastname@example.org| @thewillofash
Gravity| Directed by Alfonso Cuaron| Rated PG-13
These are the problems that plague our main character, Ryan, played by Sandra Bullock, in the first 20 minutes of Gravity. And, throughout the film, these problems are often in a state of flux. The character is never truly sure if she’ll be able to obtain all of these again, and we, the audience, are not sure either.
All we can do is watch in amazement at what director and co-writer Alfonso Cuaron was able to create. An experience like no other, he takes his viewers to space, much like Stanley Kubrick and Ron Howard did before him in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Apollo 13. But, unlike those films, Gravity is able to accomplish something that those films were not able to do: it makes you believe that you are in space, trapped, with her, losing all sense of control.
It’s an amazing feat of technology storytelling, and one that I would be shocked if it doesn’t get tons and tons of accolades during this year’s award season. Much like last year’s Life of Pi, Gravity is able to make you believe that the elements that are on screen are real, even though almost everything on screen, minus the actors themselves practically, are just a special effect. They demonstrate the incredible things that can be done with VFX effects today. In addition to this, the film’s lack of sound throughout is a testament to the power of suspense that the film is able to create, similar to that of No Country for Old Men a couple years ago.
But what truly makes this film special is the direction and cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, in addition to the lead performances by Bullock and George Clooney. Cuaron’s clear vision provides an awe-striking reality onto the screen, and allows audience members to see what has rarely been seen before. The idea of survival on film is not a new concept, as audience members only recently were able to witness The Grey and the aforementioned Life of Pi last year. But the context of the situation, combined with the use of an environment that many would never believe could be told in a film of this scale, makes the experience of watching this film on screen the haunting and compelling adventure that it is.
While I never really considered myself a fan of her work before, Bullock gives what may very well be her best performance yet. As the only person on screen for practically 75-80% of the movie, her performance could ultimately make or break what was being set. Thankfully, her committed and give-it-all-I-got, while not going over-the-top, performance propels the film. Plus, the subtlety she is able to bring to the film’s more dramatic and reflective moments allows the small character moments of the film, which, at times, are written a bit too on-the-nose for their own good, to excel.
Also, providing his usual charisma and grace, even when guarded by a space suit, Clooney is able to bring the film its much-needed sense of humor. Of course, none of these moments of comedy are ever too over-the-top or too broad, but rather just little wise-cracks or smirk-ridden lines that helps keep the film light on its feet (no pun intended).
Gravity is not without its occasional fault. The dialogue, written by Cuaron and his son, Jonas, can be a bit too blunt for its own good and, at times, the video game-nature of the story can be a bit too unbelievable for its own good. Of course, the fact that you are completely immersed in the film’s overall plot helps make some of these unbelievable natures of the plot appear seem more plausible.
The best way to experience Gravity is to go in as cold as possible. The film’s twists and turns throughout are best experienced knowing as little as possible about what is set to happen. And, undoubtedly, this is a film that you should experience on the biggest screen you can find in 3-D, for the closest you can get to the action, the better. But just feel glad knowing that you are not too close to what is happening.