Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
How do you sum up a masterpiece without going overboard on praise and building it up to epic proportions? When it comes to Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, that is impossible. The epic space thriller wrestles between emotional turmoil and breathtaking visuals to produce a film experience I've never before had. It's the ultimate survivor story and Sandra Bullock's crowning achievement.
The premise is simple. An astronaut is thrust into orbit...alone...and must figure out how to survive.
Sandra Bullock stars as Ryan Stone, a scientist on her first space mission. While working on run-of-the-mill astronaut duties with colleagues, including Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a veteran astronaut on his last space walk, their mission is aborted due to an influx of space debris heading their way. The debris collides with their structure leaving Stone and Kowalski spinning in opposite directions. This whole experience occurs in an impressive 15 minute opening sequence comprised of a single, progressing shot. This kind of camera work is classic Cuaron fare, after the enamoring single-shot scenes in his last film Children of Men, but even Cuaron outdoes himself here.
Once we follow Stone into orbit, the true beauty of the film unleashes. The simplicity of being alone in such a vast, open place is both scary as hell and comforting. This resonates even more with Stone as we find out her story.
The visuals are impossible to describe. There is literally no other movie, especially a space movie, that punches with visual impact the way Gravity is able to do. It was hard to not distract myself with trying to figure out how they made the movie while also paying attention to every detail. While it's completely understood that a lot of computer work went into this film, there are also clever filmmaking techniques that Cuaron created to pull this off. No wonder James Cameron called it the greatest space film he'd ever seen. We literally feel like we're in space.
Scientifically correct, there are minimal sound effects, leaving Steven Price to create a sweeping, moving original score. Loud and bombastic, it does everything to enhance the thrill and aid the emotion.
Working with a screenplay by Cuaron and his son, Jonas Cuaron, the real champion here is Sandra Bullock. Never before has she melted into a role like she does here, both physically and emotionally. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, Bullock is our sole contributor and fighter. When we're not traveling beside her, we become her, seeing the world through her eyes and racing the test of time. It's hard to imagine what I'd do in that situation, but I can't argue that I wouldn't think the same things she does. It's an intense struggle realizing that you are probably going to die and deciding when it's worth fighting and when it's worth giving up. What works here is the mixture of incredible effects, camera work, and Bullock's astounding performance creating a masterpiece of groundbreaking cinema.
When the credits began to roll and the lights came up in the theater, it was difficult to move. My body was sore. My palms were sweaty. It was as if I had just spent an hour and a half in zero gravity and my muscles weren't used to the stress of standing and walking. It was truly an experience like no other.
Gravity premiered at the Venice Film Festival to much fanfare before trekking to other festivals around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival. My friend Drew and I were lucky enough to get tickets to an exclusive Atlanta screening where the buzz was felt before the film even started. It's been a while since a studio has released an "event" movie such as this. There's no doubt that Gravity will make the cut in a number of major categories once awards season starts. Picture, Director, Actress, Cinematography, Score, Screenplay, Visual/Sound Effects.
This is definitely not a movie to miss. And, do yourself a favor; see this on the biggest screen possible. You won't be disappointed.
Runtime: 90 minutes