Thursday, October 3

Gravity Review

Dir: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney

A sense of wonder, the same feeling the drives exploration, saturates Alfonso Cuarón’s brilliant space drama “Gravity”.  Science fiction films are filled with conventions, ones that usually lean towards aliens or flights of futuristic imagery. Cuarón devises to explore space in an artful way, with all its imperfections and impossibilities. The visual beauty in nearly every frame and the simplistic, though multifaceted undertones, mark “Gravity” as an achievement in filmmaking.

The looming presence of Earth holds frame as an orbiting group of astronauts approach. While talking to the unseen “Houston” (Mission Control voiced by Ed Harris), veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) are called off their spacewalk. Debris from a blown up satellite are travelling towards them at bullet-like speeds. Before Kowalski and Stone can head to safety the fragments arrive and destroy everything, people and property included. Kowalski and Stone are the only survivors, communication with Mission Control is lost, the debris is making it’s orbit back around, and this is the first startlingly dramatic 13 minutes of the film.

Visually, “Gravity” is beautiful and detailed. Earth is distinguished with land markings and climate changes. Darkness looms while at other moment’s sunshine streaks; the creation of the background elements is a film itself. The use of 3-D is implemented to draw the viewer into the world subtly. There are very few moments where the gimmick is exposed, but when it’s pronounced the method is surprising and utilized effectively.

Sandra Bullock is splendid in the lead role. Her character’s story is integral to her survival and the complexities associated with her struggle with mortality. Bullock embodies an emotionally hurt woman who is undeniably affected by her place in the world though her fortitude remains an essential aspect of her foundation. The emptiness and loneliness of space is reflected in her composition. Cuarón reveals these qualities delicately through the narrative, avoiding the opportunity to forcefully impose easy, deliberate explanation to the viewer. George Clooney is also good in the supporting role, being the only form of survival support for the inexperienced Stone. Clooney delivers simple lines of dialogue with confidence and comfort.

The narrative does an ingenious job of making the dialogue, which is a kind of straightforward chatter, into a form of motivational self-talk. Kowalski’s good guy mentality, wise cracking and all, lends to positive affirmations amidst the looming anticipation of the deadly unknown. Stone’s blind conversation to Mission Control, timid and repetitive, keeps her focus on survival and a connection to humanity. While some may see this as a narrative flaw, it keeps the characters grounded with an awareness of reality instead of falling into the trappings of over examination.

While the film requires some leaps of logic, distances between traveled locations being a major point of unfeasibility, the film is so well shaped it’s easy to overlook. “Gravity” is the wonderful kind of movie that makes fans remember why they fell in love with film in the first place. It brings back the wonder and magic of filmmaking.

Monte’s Rating
5.00 out of 5.00

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