As soon as mass audiences got a look at the trailer for Gravity and word started getting out about how amazing it looked, I decided I was going to try my best to avoid all teasers, trailers and promo clips if at all possible. I’m not usually impressed by special effects, I don’t generally dig serious sci fi and I normally don’t think a big cinema screen ads that much to any movie. But for some reason, with Gravity, I knew I shouldn’t have any of the impact ruined by seeing even a second of it on a computer (or worse, phone) screen. And just a minute or two into experiencing it on the big screen, I knew I’d made the right choice.
George Clooney’s name might be just as prominent in the marketing for Gravity
, but this is all Sandra Bullock’s movie. The two are in space, working on the Hubble telescope. Bullock plays Dr Ryan Stone, a rookie astronaut in her first week of living and working in space. Clooney is Matt Kowalksi, a veteran of more than one tour of duty in orbit who’s getting ready to go home.
While on a space walk, debris from a Russian satellite (those pesky Ruskies, still the go to bad guys decades after the end of the Cold War) bombards their ship and all hell breaks lose. Clooney and Bullock are separated from the ship and Clooney has to save Bullock from floating away into oblivion. This first brush with death is nothing compared to what Bullock will go through in the next 90 or so minutes. And she somehow manages to find new ways to amplify the terror, desperation and exhaustion convincingly the entire time. Gravity is seriously relentless with what it puts Bullock’s character through. Literally, right up until the last 60 seconds, the universe throws everything’s it got at Dr Ryan Stone to break her physically and emotionally.
I’ve read a few articles about Bullock deserving an Oscar nomination for Gravity and they’re not wrong. She’s on screen for pretty much the entire movie, completely alone for the majority, and amazingly engaging every second of it. I can’t see the Academy ever giving an acting Oscar to anything sci fi related, but in a year when Bullock delivers this performance, and kills it in a broad comedy like The Heat, she’s much more deserving of an Oscar than for some by the numbers, middle of the road, beige yawn like like The Blind Side.
Director and co-writer Alfonso Cuaron deserves just as much of the credit though, for how compelling Gravity is. The tension, suspense and lump in your throat anticipation he manages to build over the course of this movie are amazing. After the initial incident that sees Bullock saved by Clooney, her first serious obstacle is a rapidly depleting oxygen supply. Even when she’s down to 1%, there’s still an hour left in the movie, so you know she won’t die. But that didn’t stop me holding my breath and anxiously squirming in my seat, wondering how she’d survive.
In a movie that is visually like nothing else I’ve ever seen before, one shot in particular stands out. And I don’t know if that’s because I found particularly beautiful, deeply poignant or just noxiously on the nose, but at one stage, in zero gravity, Bullock slowly flats into the fetal position. Is it a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey? Is it saying something about the feeling of safety in the claustrophobic airlock she’s floating in? Or is it akin to the rat at the end of The Departed, that made Homer Simpson declare, “The rat symbolizes obviousness”? I really have no idea.
The only real downside to Gravity was that I had to see it in 3D. Admittedly, I’ve only seen a handful of movies in 3D, but none of them have made me see the point if it yet. The only thing 3D adds to a movie is a couple of bucks to the ticket price. But if it’s the only way you can see this movie, it’s more than worth the inflated price, the dark, muddy screen images and the one or two hacky moments when some object gently floats, or violently careens, toward the camera.
Directed by – Alfionso Cuaron
Written By – Alfonso Cuaron, Jonas Cuaron