Starring: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) and George Clooney (Ocean’s Eleven)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
Writers: Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón
Runtime: 1 hour 31 minutes
Release Date: 4 October (US), 7 November (UK)
It has been seven long years since Alfonso Cuarón last graced us with a film. The last film he made was Children of Men, a bleak but wonderful piece of cinema and one of my all-time favourites. Since then, he has been hard at work on Gravity, a film that has had an especially long production period due to its heavy use of visual effects. Does all this time and money spent pay off, or has it all been wasted effort?
From the moment the film begins, you are immediately sucked in to one of the scariest environments imaginable: space. Though these opening moments are quite calm and use their time to set up our characters, there is always a strong sense of tension as you wait for something to wrong. And, eventually, something does. When the sh*t hits the fan, the film becomes a non-stop rollercoaster. It moves along at a perfect pace, making its short running time feel even shorter but still knowing when to stop for slower character moments. The few characters we meet aren’t exactly deep, original people but they are relatable and likable in spite of their unordinary predicament. This is a film where the harshness of the environment is your antagonist; there is always something that could kill Ryan (Bullock) at any moment, and the joy of the movie is watching her overcome these obstacles and keep moving.
Speaking of Bullock, whether you’ve liked her in previous movies or not, you cannot deny that she gives a spectacular performance here. She carries the whole movie on her shoulders for the most part, and surprisingly she manages to keep you engaged, mainly thanks to her naturalistic performance and her character’s status as an everyman (well, the closest thing to an everyman in this situation). George Clooney may be playing himself as usual here, but he also puts in a great performance, contrasting Bullock’s fear with a good dose of humour. Other than some voices on the radio, they are the only characters you see and the lack of friendly faces only adds to the emptiness of the environment.
Where Gravity truly shines is in the technical department. This is a beautiful looking film, mainly thanks to Cuarón’s incredible direction and some of the most involving and inventive camerawork I’ve seen in a while. Sure, it’s all probably been majorly touched up with CGI, but if it has been its some of the best CGI work around. All of this is well complimented by the great sound design or, for a good chunk of the film, lack thereof; this is space after all. The score by Steven Price is also suitably sparse and chilling, amplifying those moments of danger to maximum efficiency. Gravity is also one of the few films in recent history that actually benefits from the use of 3-D; it really puts you into the action and makes the deadness of space seem that much more scary. This is a film that must be seen on the biggest screen possible; if you have an IMAX anywhere near you, go see this there. Combined with the 3-D, the only way they could have made this any more immersive is if they screened it in special zero gravity cinemas. Actually, that would be pretty cool.
Gravity is a cinematic marvel that is just begging to be seen. It’s got all the spectacle that your average audience wants to see, but also has enough thought and artistry to satisfy the true cinephile as well. It’s one of the best films of the year, and easily could snag some Oscar nods, at least its technical prowess.
FINAL VERDICT: 10/10!