Gravity is a dazzling film. From its start, right up to its end; it will have you in awe. One moment you will be admiring the scenery, the next you will be gasping for breath. Gravity is suspenseful, full of wonder, impressive in scale but most of all, Gravity, has a heart.
I was expecting Gravity to amaze me. Have you seen those trailers? I knew it would be a visual feast but I didn’t expect the simple but deep themes that Gravity tries to instil in its viewers. Themes of survival, loss, and the human response to disasters.
The basic premise of Gravity is that Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), a medical engineer on her first mission in space, and veteran astronaut Mike Kowalski (George Clooney), must fight to survive after the debris from a destroyed satellite decimates their shuttle and sets them adrift. Once Gravity starts rolling, it is a non-stop thrill ride.
Gravity, obviously, focuses on how these two people react to the crisis but it also focuses on how they react to life. Kowalski and Stone are the polar opposites. Kowalski is full of life; he is engaged with the world around him. When you first see him, he’s having fun, cracking jokes and savouring every moment with the jetpack he’s testing. Stone, on the other hand, is disconnected, withdrawn, and oblivious to the wonder around her. Ever since a tragic event occurred in her life, she has stopped living. Seeing these two interact with each other and respond to their situation is the reason Gravity is not your typical blockbuster.
Director Alfonso Cuarón directs Gravity with purpose. Every shot is there for a reason and while the film can get heart pounding at times, Cuarón never overemphasizes his visuals. You may be watching a space station being ripped apart but the camera is always focused on Bullock in the foreground, never loosing sight of her amongst the chaos. Lesser directors would have attempted to showboat this film, showing off its visuals. Instead, you worry about the two leads. Cuarón manages to capture the frailty to human life, in every scene. Every move they make, every breath they take, and every time they try to grab onto something, it is all amplified. Moving around in space, has never seemed so dangerous.
Gravity is also a technical achievement. You have to experience it the way it was made to be experienced, in IMAX 3D. I’m not a huge supporter of 3D but Gravity shows you the experience the format is capable of providing. It is the most effective and purposeful use of 3D and CGI that we’ve seen in years. The CGI creates a reality we can believe in and the 3D makes us active participators instead of just being passive bystanders. Whether it’s through the POV shots, that puts us in the shoes of Stone or the tracking shots that slowly draws close to its destinations, Gravity puts the viewers in the middle of this disaster.
Those transitions from an objective view to Stone’s subjective POV, not only puts us into her shoes but Cuarón implements this technique only when Stone’s circumstance is most dire. It is in those moments when she has to decide whether she should surrender her will and die or fight to keep breathing. In those moments, we see Stone decide to live, even when her life is in danger of being wiped out.
For many, Gravity will be a non-stop thrill ride. For others a human survival story. For some, a complex character portrait. For me, it’s a multifaceted story about the most primal human instinct. It asks us, the viewer directly, do you want to live? Are you willing to take responsibility for your life or do you just want to float on by? It is this ability to thrill and make us think, that makes Gravity so special.
Gravity is a simple yet deep film. One that warrants multiple views, for some, to fully grasp its themes. Gravity needs to be experienced, you will never forgive yourself if you do not watch it in theatres.
Score: 9 out of 10