Gravity – Review

5 Nov


Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón’s latest film, directed and co-written with his son Jonas, pits medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) together alone in space after Russian satellite debris destroys their shuttle. Alone in space, cut off from Earth, they find themselves fighting for survival with oxygen running low. The film begins with the simple statement that “Life in space is impossible”, a phrase forever on the mind of the audience and astronauts Stone and Kowalski.

Much like Cuarón’s previous work (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También), Gravity has its bleakness, interspersed with moments of unbridled hope; this creates the framework upon which a true masterpiece has been built. Visually, Gravity  looks absolutely stunning; every frame could be frozen and framed above the mantelpiece. The velvety blackness of space smothers all, it is absolute, a vast void that has rarely looked so beautiful.

Space is just one of the aspects that the 3D element amplifies; as in Avatar and Hugo, the addition of 3D certainly adds to the experience. The tension steadily rising as each minute passes by, the claustrophobia of the space suit and the spinning disorientation as astronauts, random objects, space debris weightlessly float across and towards the screen – all enhanced by the use of the much-maligned 3D format. The performances and chemistry of Bullock and Clooney are the perfect complement to Cuarón’s ambitious vision, understated yet powerful, the transformation of Bullock’s character is one of the many seamless layers that create this extraordinary feat in filmmaking.

Gravity is not afraid to tackle important issues; this is no shallow, CGI driven, popcorn blockbuster, it explores rich themes that are relatable on an existential level to humanity as a whole. Communication, or the lack thereof, religious subtexts, the (in)significance of man and life itself are all profound questions raised using techniques such as masterful camerawork and the poignant composition of shots – the white speck of an astronaut floating through the all-consuming darkness of space, just one of countless spectacular images which deserve analysis over pages not sentences.

Cuarón asks the characters to let go, asks you to let go , embrace the unexpected; this is not an easy journey for either party. Earth is always in frame throughout, even reflected in visors, always taunting; Stone and Kowalski can almost reach out and touch it yet they are many miles away. Gravity, a force in nature binding us to Earth, a force in cinema binding us to the screen, open mouthed in wonder as Cuarón delivers one of the most remarkable films of the 21st century.

Space has never looked so good, Earth has never looked so mesmerising, cinema has rarely been so magnificent. Gravity reminds me why I love films and is undoubtedly the film of the year.



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