It’s an age since I’ve seen a movie as different as this.
Longer since I’ve seen one that, if only briefly, helped me look at the world through clearer eyes.
Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón already has a distinguished CV (including a Harry Potter), but with a script co-written by son Jonás, he gives the impression here that he is fulfilling a personal ambition.
Naysayers might argue that Gravity it is merely another tale of triumphalism against the odds… but sometimes our voguish cynicism can be our own worst enemy.
The (courageously) long-held opening shot sets a spellbinding tone. A curved segment of blue-shrouded Earth covers part of the screen; the rest is the black silence of weightless space. The vacuum is punctuated by the banter of US astronauts working to repair damage to one of the countless telecommunications nodules that orbit the planet.
Ryan (Sandra Bullock) is a novice, but Matt (George Clooney) is an old hand. Gradually they come into view and just as their mission seems as banal as taking out the wheelie-bin, Ground Control (voiced by Ed Harris in a nod to Ron Howard’s Apollo 13) commands ‘abort!’
A distant explosion has sent debris hurtling their way. Irreparable damage is done to their base, so they must travel across space to a Russian station.
The tension led me at one point to involuntarily hold my breath in suspense, and the special effects are overwhelming – the tear floating off Ryan’s face is a jewel.
Clooney, who has mastered debonair humility, even in a NASA bubble suit, is… well, he’s George Clooney and we love him for it, but Bullock, as the central character, carries the weight of the message. Her performance is stunning, from the moment she is set adrift to when she drags herself ashore in the quasi-religious finale, re-born from the egg of her capsule.
To understand that, even with our ever-multiplying apps and gizmos, we are no different from prehistoric amphibians is a profound and liberating irony.
~ John Campbell