After this film’s conclusion, when the credits started rolling and everyone got up to leave, I turned to my movie-partner and said, with as much dignity and grace as I could muster, “Holy crap.” You must understand, this was the most complex and articulate sentence I could assemble in the moment because Gravity left me nearly speechless. Alfonso Cuarón’s film has to be one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. It’s beautiful, realistic, gripping, terrifying, and sincere. I loved every second from start to finish and I marvel at its originality. For anyone who thinks a movie with a mammoth cast of seven (mission control voices included) will be slow and uninteresting, I am here to prove you wrong.
Gravity’s story line is successful because it is unpredictable. It becomes apparent very early on that poor Ryan (Sandra Bullock) is not going to have a good day, but what is not apparent is exactly how that day is going to go wrong. It may be set in space, but she fights everything from a lack of oxygen to smoke inhalation to a fear of drowning. It is the worst-case scenario of everything. And Sandra Bullock – where do I begin? Oscar nomination? Oh, I think so. For a huge chunk of the film she can only act with her face, since her body is floating wherever it pleases and she finds herself in more than one claustrophobic situation. Still, she shows genuine terror, calm genius, and heartfelt sentiment no matter her physical position. Plus, she is as fit as a twenty-year-old. I would be shocked if she did not win something for this role.
And it is not just her and George Clooney’s talents which make this film utterly believable – it is the way it is filmed. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they did it. Underwater tanks? Zero gravity? Neither offers the amount of time or the space needed to capture such long, vast shots. Did they use CGI? Absolutely – in some scenes, but it blended so incredibly well that I could not tell the difference between what was fake and what was real. For example, when she cries, her tears float immediately away from her eyes. No tear-lines on the cheeks. No wetness under the eyes. It is flawless. And this brings me to another point. First of all, you must understand, I hate 3D. The glasses are too big (ex. I sneezed and they flew off), it’s way too expensive, and, unless it’s a Pixar film, I feel like there’s little difference from the 2D version. But if you see Gravity, you must see it in 3D. The magnitude of open space is so much more sublime, and there is everything from water to debris flying right at you. It is 100% worth the extra money.
Gravity’s visual experience on top of its traumatic events helped me realize, once and for all, that space is not the place for me. There is a terrible (in a good way) balance between fast and slow: even if it looks like something is floating softly towards the camera, it’s actually moving at several thousand miles per hour. Plus, one of space’s nasty features is that there is nothing to stop momentum. So once the out of control spinning begins, it is unlikely it will stop anytime soon. Ryan opens the film by expressing her feelings of nausea. At this point I thought, “Excellent. She’s going to lose her lunch in her helmet, then I’m going to lose it, then this entire movie will be ruined.” I can’t tell you if she keeps it together or not, but I can tell you that my own stomach was in the clear from start to finish – and I’m the kind of person who looks at a ship and feels dizzy.
Because everything takes place in space, every movement is severely slowed down. This means that reactions sound less like, “watch ou-!” and more like, “oooohhhh noooooooo!” This also means that the suspense is nail-biting. I was on the brink of screaming suggestions akin to “don’t go in the basement!” in the middle of the theatre. And I’m not one of those kinds of movie watchers… at least not in public. Steven Price’s soundtrack partners this tension perfectly. The something-is-about-to-happen score is on par with Zimmer’s “Joker” sound in The Dark Knight. I was squirming so much my stupid 3D glasses kept falling off.
If the Space Program can learn anything from this film it is that more handlebars are needed outside of their spacecrafts, but if filmmakers can learn anything it’s that a fantastic movie isn’t all about explosive fireballs or the destruction of New York City. There are some scenes in Gravity that have no movement and no sound and they are mesmerizing. It is a beautiful and artistic film as much as it is dramatic and suspenseful. A good story, a fantastic cast, stunning cinematography, and the chance to see something the likes of which I have never seen before lead me to give Gravity a proud and well-deserved 10/10.
This review can also be read at http://thecinemaid.net/2013/10/06/gravity-2013/