As a claustrophobe, I thought being trapped in an enclosed space would be the most frightening feeling I could experience. Who knew the exact opposite would be even more terrifying?
“Gravity” is largely a conceptual film, but director Alfonso Cuaron makes being adrift in space an absolutely nail-biting experience. Told in real time, “Gravity” effectively depicts the intensity and fear of two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) fighting for survival after their shuttle is destroyed by space debris. Cuaron successfully shows how frighteningly minuscule a single person can be when set against the endless backdrop of space. He makes you feel the deep fear of drifting away with no sense of direction, with no hope for rescue or oxygen to breathe. The desperation of the astronauts for a gasp of oxygen, one last jetpack thrust, or even a single handhold to grasp onto to avoid floating away is all so palpable.
Cuaron is aided by two A-listers in Clooney and Bullock, but Clooney more or less plays himself and even throws in a typical, “Hey, aren’t I damn handsome” pick-up line, but this is a tour de force for Bullock. She is in every scene and is so convincing in her fear and desperation that you want her to survive, despite barely knowing anything about her character. Bullock is a lock to be recognized come awards season.
But the true star of “Gravity” is Cuaron. Already respected as a technical master for his previous films such as “Children of Men,” he truly outdoes himself on this film. His creativity and vision are simply amazing. The opening 10 minutes feature his signature long tracking shot, starting with a breathtaking view of Earth and ending with debris hitting the astronauts’ shuttle. His camerawork and timing will leave you wondering how filming such a scene is even possible. The film’s visual effects are by far the most impressive I’ve seen this year, and the incredible score by Steven Price enhances the mood of each scene.
“Gravity” is truly a film to be experienced on the big screen. Even the 3D, which I’m usually not a fan of, has great impact on the storytelling. I can’t wait to see “Gravity” again. I just need to give my heart a few days to recover.