Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Gravity (2013, Alfonso Cuarón)

There is so much technical wizardry within Gravity, it contains advancements that will surely raise the benchmark of effects driven cinema from here on out. These achievements, while impressive, only make possible what is essentially a survival story boiled down to its very components. Within its heart pounding 90 minutes it sporadically pulls back to something transcendent, something meditative, which makes for a majestic and life affirming tale of reconnecting with life. Living as opposed to just breathing.

The film opens with a panoramic view of Earth as seen from the satellite of which astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are attending to. The shot is breathtaking and continues for what must be close to 10 minutes; starting from a far before slowly moving in on the two astronauts and following their movements like poetry in motion. This opening, like most of the film, induces awe through what on paper would seem to be insignificant. It reminds of the wonder around us that so often goes unnoticed, the beautiful yet terrifying thought of how minuscule we are in the universe's grand design, and how delicate the life we are given truly is.

Disaster soon strikes through a meteor shower, beginning a cataclysmic turn of events that sees Stone and Kowalski battling for their lives and a return to Earth with very little by way of doing so. The drama is intense in which every second counts and every breath is one nearer to the last; the serene beauty of the film's opening movements now given way to the unrelenting hazards of space. At one early point Stone comments that she could get used to the silence that space offers, words that she surely comes to regret. Is there anything more terrifying than silence? She soon comes to find out.

The film is often unbearable as we see one relentless obstacle faced after another and it's the breaks from the action that mark it above an average thriller. It's in these moments that Sandra Bullock truly shines in a performance that engulfs us into this deadly alien environment. Moments such as her breakdown as she fears death is imminent, alone she cries and states that no one ever taught her how to pray, all performed while Emmanuel Lubezki's careful lens focusses on a single floating tear leaving all else out of focus. Such a quietly profound moment filled with pain and loss. Of all the nerve shredding, desperate surviving on display throughout, it's instances such as these that make Gravity an experience to be marvelled at.

Alfonso Cuarón and son Jonas have crafted a stunning survival thriller that grabs you unlike any other science fiction outing you've ever seen or are likely to see. Steve Prices' score connects wonderfully with the action as the film commits to the anti-cinematic fact that sound is an impossibility in space. The music carries us through the action and gives great impact without announcing itself. With the silent setting of Gravity plus its straight forward narrative and its dependancy on technical innovation, what we have here is a film more in-sync with the early cinema of Georges Méliès and the many other filmmakers of his generation who in such a short burst developed cinema into an art form full of wonder and spectacle. It's easy to get swept up in the technical marvels of the film (ground breaking as they are) but one must not forget how stripped down this film is, if anything Gravity is just as much a step back for cinema as it is one forward. A step back to a kind of back-to-basics filmmaking barely evident today, a truly impressive feat when paired with one of the most technically pushing directors working today.

1 comment:

  1. Great review, cant wait to see it. Sandy Bullock is still a one trick pony bitch though