Film Review: Gravity (2013)
Occasion: Date night (2D)
Mission Specialist Dr Ryan Stone (Bullock) finds herself spiraling into space after her crew are hit by a rouge cloud of space debris. Things go from bad to worse as Stone and fellow survivor Matt Kowalski (Clooney) struggle to get back to Earth before the debris completes its orbit and strikes them again.
Despite its turbulent pace, Gravity is a deeply introspective film, reducing its plot to one element: the strength of Stone’s will to live versus the uncompromising laws of physics.
It may be a simple story, but Gravity embodies what the magic of cinema should be all about, as it breathlessly transports its audience to a place of excitement, wonder, isolation and beauty.
Not a reboot, remake, an adaptation of a biography, a comic book, novel or TV series, Gravity defies current Hollywood trend not only by being an original film, but also by casting an actress in her 40’s at its helm.
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As Stone, Bullock eclipses every performance she has ever given. Vulnerable, smart and authentic, her struggle to survive and her battle against her own personal torment enables her to be reborn from despondent mother burdened by the pain of losing her child, to an iron-willed fighter against relentless Murphy’s Law.
She does not fall in love with handsome joker Kowalski; her role is not that of sexy sidekick or damsel in distress. Her underwear-clad scenes are not sensual. She brings an almost genderless quality to the film (her name, haircut and boyish frame), conjuring what must surely be intentional parallels to ultimate movie space-goddess Ellen Ripley.
The theme of rebirth and the similarities to Alien are consistent throughout Gravity. Safely ensconced in the uterine ISS or crawling out of the lake like a primordial Eve, Stone represents both mother and child throughout the film.
Gravity is also a triumph of cinematic technique. The epic 12-minute, continuously shot opening sequence combines CGI and live actor performances with seamless elegance. Just as Star Wars, The Matrix andAvatar rewrote the movie-making rules of their time, this film’s creators pioneered new technology to suit their vision. A rig was developed to mimic zero gravity environment, lifting cameras, props and even Bullock herself, moving her like a puppet throughout the film’s interior scenes.
In a year of lazy movie making and big budget disappointments (I’m looking at you Star Trek Into Darkness, World War Z, Man of Steel, After Earth, blahblahblah), Gravity stands triumphantly apart from 2013’s crop of mediocre sci-fi and action blockbusters.
Directed by Alfonso Curaón
Written by Alfonso and Jonás Curaón
Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and the voices of Paul Sharma and Ed Harris as Mission Control. Because who else could ever be the voice of Houston?