Have you ever looked up at the stars at night and wondered what it would be like to go there? Most people have, and sadly, most of us will never be able to go there. But Alfonso Cuarón (the director of Y Tu Mamá También, and Children of Men) brings us as close to this dream as possible in spectacular style with Gravity. The film tells the story of Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock, Speed, The Heat) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney, Ocean’s Eleven, Burn After Reading) as they get stranded in space and attempt to return to Earth.
The premise is simple, and Gravity is all the better for it. The plot is a simple vehicle that trims all the unnecessary fat and makes way for some absolutely stunning cinematography. This is evident straight from the outset, with some truly gorgeous establishing shots of the Earth from space really putting things in perspective. We see the film entirely from the perspective of Stone, with Bullock being in practically every scene, and this gives the film the ability to contrast the immensity of space with claustrophobic, point-of-view shots in tight space capsules. I hardly ever suggest that people go and see films in 3D, but in this case it is a must. Cuarón really knows what he is doing with the technology, and it makes the experience even more immersive. The sound composition was done really well. The people responsible knew when to use silence, and the soundtrack added to the tension and suspense.
Gravity concentrates predominantly on its two leads, with the audience’s attention barely leaving them. And while Bullock wouldn’t have been my first choice, she does a decent job at expressing both despair and hope, which I wouldn’t be surprised if it resulted in an academy award. Whether or not she deserves it is another question. And speaking of awards, Clooney is a huge contender for Best Supporting Actor, because he brings a reassuring cockiness for both Stone and the audience during the most tense, panicky scenes.
The film revels in its simplicity, and uses a series of unfortunate circumstances to propel the film to an intense climax. Each situation draws the viewer to the edge of their seats, and uses the degree of downtime between each set piece to develop the two main characters. But this minimalism works to Gravity’s advantage, never letting the protagonists’ domestic dilemmas overshadow the plot.
Gravity is easily one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in a long time. Cuarón really knows how to use stunning space cinematography and gravity effects, and counteracts this with tense, claustrophobic set pieces. These are all seen through the eyes of Stone and Kowalski, and while being unusual casting choices, both Bullock and Clooney encapsulate the isolation of the film. If this doesn’t get some recognition during awards season, I don’t know what will.