14 oct. 2013

My Review: Gravity (9/10)

"It's time to stop driving. It's time to go home."

There are so many great things I want to say about this movie that it's very hard to decide where to begin. I could mention how breathtaking and spectacular the visuals were, or how powerful Sandra Bullock's performance was, or how tense and gripping the film was, or how well this film established its narrative structure of a simple survival story, but I would have to begin by saying this is the scariest space has been since Ridley Scott's 1979 sci-fi film, Alien. Alfonso Cuaron had several years to prepare for this film and he had big shoes to fill because his latest film, Children of Men, was a spectacular thriller. Let me begin by saying he doesn't disappoint because Gravity is even more mind blowing than that film was. The vastness and emptiness of space turns out to be the greatest villain here and Cuaron does a masterful job at letting us experience that fear on a personal level. The movie is only 90 minutes long but at the end you walk out feeling physically weak after experiencing so much tension. All the hype the film is getting is totally justified, and not just because it's visually stunning, but because it is a completely well crafted movie. I thought Avatar was visually stunning, but I still didn't like that movie very much, so it takes more than that to get me on board and Cuaron did it thanks to a great script and a powerful performance from Sandra Bullock. The tone of the film and the attention to detail is truly unique and that is what makes this film stand out above all the other thousands of space movies we've seen. The long shots Cuaron loves to incorporate in his films never worked so much to his advantage as they do here adding to the vastness of space. I really want to experience this film on IMAX because I'm sure it is all the more breathtaking and worthwhile. This is a wonderful film that will end up on many critics top film lists. Gravity manages to draw you into space and experience it in first person. It is as if Cuaron put us inside Bullock's space suit and let the camera be our eyes. Gravity is an overwhelming experience and one you shouldn't miss out on. It is something special.

The plot is very simple: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer who is on her first space mission working on a satellite. She went through months of training for this specific mission. Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on the other hand is an experienced astronaut who is in command of this, his last mission. Matt is a self loving guy who enjoys every second of his work, while Ryan is quiet and tries to keep to herself. She seems to enjoy the quietness of space, but she herself has experienced tragedy in her life and hasn't been able to move on. She focuses on her work and nothing else. During their routine mission Matt and Ryan receive a message from Earth telling them to return to the space shuttle as soon as possible because the debris from a satellite explosion is heading their way. As we see from the trailers, the debris reaches them before they can get onboard and all of a sudden Matt and Ryan are left all alone drifting through the vastness and darkness of space trying to survive.

Gravity may not be a character driven film, but the entire movie serves as a sort of metaphor for Ryan's life. She mentions how she spends most of her days simply driving around without a purpose in life and now she is drifting alone through the emptiness of space. Clooney plays a supporting role here but his character plays a key role in Ryan's transformation. At first she is just overwhelmed by the entire incident without a clue as to what she has to do and dependent on Matt, but he manages to calm her down and convince her that she has to fight for survival. Life is worth living despite the terrible incidents we experience. We can either let it suck our souls and simply drift and continue on living without a purpose, or we can rise to the challenge and fight those obstacles and find meaning and joy in life. I think that is the core message of Gravity under all the breathtaking visual accomplishments. It is a simple story about survival with an impeccable performance from Sandra Bullock, breathtaking cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life), and it is technically perfect. This is probably the closest I will ever be to experiencing space. The film perfectly balances the beauty of space with its horror and you should experience it through the biggest screen your city has to offer because it is a rewarding journey.

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