Synopsis (From the official site):Dr. Ryan Stone is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left.
But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.
GRAVITY isn’t something to be seen, it’s something to be experienced.
In the hands of lesser actors or directors GRAVITY could have easily been A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS set in space. In the capable hands of Alfonso Cuaron (CHILDREN OF MEN), this fairly straightforward story becomes a gripping and emotional tale of survival, both of the body and the soul.
In IMAX 3D, GRAVITY is truly a wonder to behold. Its 3D serves the story in a way that, while not necessary, enhances everything about the film and draws you deeper into the journey it takes you on. Unlike the bombastic, gimmicky 3D of other movies, GRAVITY’s 3D exists for a reason.
It allows the inherent physics of space travel to exist without needlessly drawing attention to them. This allows the film to overwhelm you in ways both quiet and grandiose. It’s sneakily immersive, and the best use of 3D in a film I’ve ever seen.
The imagery is astoundingly beautiful and awe-inspiring. The long, single takes Alfonso Cuaron is well known for are a perfect marriage for this story. They capture the majestic wonder of the cosmos as well as its inherent danger, often in the same shot. Cuaron’s ability to manage these conflicting emotions will leave you with an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach that serves to further engage you in the events as the unfold. I’ve never appreciated nervousness as much as I did during my viewing.
GRAVITY’s performances deserve just as much praise as its direction. In a film set against the vast infinity, they keep you riveted to the story of two people on a seemingly impossible odyssey.
George Clooney is a necessarily charming and calming presence as Matt Kowalski. His performance strikes a perfect balance of authority and humanity, assisted by what seems to be his inherent charisma and affability. Whenever he’s on screen, you find yourself appreciative of his character and very glad to see him. Clooney turns in a powerful portrayal that is felt throughout the film.
Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of Dr. Ryan Stone is even more powerful due its multifacetedness. She’s given numerous physical and emotional beats to play, and does so convincingly by doing so naturally. So often in films are a character’s driving forces clumsily beaten into the audience until they no longer care about them. In GRAVITY, Stone’s pathos is handled just enough to make you aware of it and inform you of her mental state when the time for big decisions arrives.
Bullock deserves so much of the credit for this film, as it’s built upon her constant presence which never wears thin or causes you to tire of her. That’s an amazing testament to her abilities as an actress and to the quality of her performance. It’s an intense investment that lasts for the entire 91 minute running time.
In the end, it’s hard for me to say anything about GRAVITY that numerous critics haven’t already said. The film is earning a lot of praise from a lot of people, and it’s all well deserved. I will however add one more thing as a movie fan and not as a critic.
GRAVITY succeeds largely because it has an astounding sense of its innate self. The film understands what it is, it understands its purpose. And it doesn’t try to be anything other than that. Its reach doesn’t exceed its grasp and in being exactly what it needs to be it becomes something more. An experience that can mean as much or as little as the viewer wants it to. Its steady pace tells the story that needs to be told and ends it at the most natural point. What a relief it is to see a critical darling of a film that in no way insists upon itself with over dramatics or pretentiousness.
I appreciate GRAVITY because it delivered exactly what I expected and yet so much more. It’s a breathtaking beautiful, genuinely affecting, visceral experience that demands to be seen in the theater, with an audience.
More than anything though, it’s enjoyably good movie.
Rating: 5 out of 5