22 November 2013

Short review: Gravity

(Dir: Alfonso Cuarón, 2013)

For a film with so many talking about it and so much written on it, there's surprisingly little to actually say about Gravity. It primarily works on a visceral level, pretty much on all levels - at times it feels like an emotional sucker-punch, particularly in the early scenes where Sandra Bullock's Dr. Stone realises her chance of clinging onto humanity is drifting away into the infinite nothingness. There's something of an elemental fear here, something which in reality none of us would ever experience, but the idea of it is pretty terrifying. This may sound like a spoiler but really it's the set up for the film and the trailer reveals as much, yet of course there is more to the story even if it feels like it's stretching itself far too thin as the film progresses, leading to a somewhat unsatisfying ending and moments of incredulity en route to this point.

But in a sense story isn't the point of the film - it's a hell of a visual and audio enhanced treat. What director Cuarón and Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki have done in terms of make us feel like we're in space floating above this planet, with a fluid constantly moving camera that rarely appears to cut away, is deeply engaging and involving. This enhances the isolation of being so far away from not only humanity but safety too. And of course the whole thing looks beautiful. The multi-directional sound only serves to enhance this, helping with the disorientation and suitably positioning the viewer in the astronauts shoes when required. It's true this should be seen on the biggest screen you can find; and if it's a big enough screen to be fully immersive then watch it in 3D.

Gravity is not a film without flaws but it's lean running time means it's shorn of excess which helps immeasurably, whilst Bullock is excellent and holds the film together. George Clooney should also get mention as the perfect actor to play an older, friendly but slightly cavalier astronaut on his final trip to space, adding a nice extra dimension. This is a thrilling, exceptionally well put together film that exemplifies what the cinema was built for.

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