Gravity (5 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Children of Men)
Written by Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Jonas Cuaron (The Year of the Nail)
Starring: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
After seeing the brief trailer for Gravity many times, I knew there was something special about this film. I had heard the buzz from Venice, and Toronto, but still did not want to read a review, watch the second trailer, or even read a simple plot summary. This was one of the films I was most excited to see this year, and I wanted to go without any context, the same way I viewed Pacific Rim, and this was a smart course of action on both accounts.
Without giving too much away, Gravity centers around two characters a medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) and an astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) who are working on a project, but an accident causes things to go drastically wrong. After the accident the two struggle to survive out in the middle of space.
One of the beautiful aspects of this film is the simplistic nature of the plot, but the magnitude with which the the story is told. Most of the credit for the vision of this film belongs to esteemed director Alfonso Cuaron. Cuaron's genius has brought many different films to life on the big screen, from the small character driven road trip Y Tu Mama Tambien, to what is widely regarded by Potter fans as the best film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the post apocalyptic Children of Men which centers on the lack of fertility, and the potential for the first successful birth. Cuaron creates a style all of his own; he is precise, and this film is proof that through this breathtaking experience there are still advances to be made in within film.
The film was shot in 3-D and while I hate this technology this is one of the most, if not the most powerful use of this technology. The 3-D never felt like a gimmick nor did you feel as though Cuaron through both his direction and fantastic editing were trying to manipulate, but rather add to the sumptuous visual experience of this film. Cuaron's work as both the director and editor on this film enhance the emotionally raw, and suspenseful nature of this film, which defies the odds.
The technical aspects of this film, make many other films out there look like child's play. While Cuaron's vision, and direction are at the center, Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography rivals the brilliant work he did with Terrence Malick's Tree of Life. Lubezki has worked with Cuaron on all of his films, but Potter, and together this duo have combined to form some of the best visual experiences of the last 15 years. Lubezki's work on Gravity should be studied, never duplicated, admired and be proof of the power cinematography has within a film. The cinematography combined with the visual effects packs a punch in this film that will not be forgotten.
Along with the all of these elements the film's score by Steven Price sets the musical tone, fantastically creating moments where you sit on the edge of your seat as the intensity builds to a fevered frenzy. Price recently did the score for the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright film The World's End, but he is relatively new to the world of music composition within film, this will change.
While Gravity is mostly about the visual effects, there is something to be said about the performances, especially Bullock. While I have never doubted Ms. Bullock's comedic timing, and she has proved her dramatic chops, in Crash, not in her Academy Award winning performance in The Blind Side, I did not expect this from her. Bullock is great in this role and she helps sell the loneliness of the experience, the panic, the urgency, she makes you gasp for air as she does, because the film takes your breath away.
Gravity is a special film, and is one of the most awe inspiring film experiences I ever. The film has both a visual and emotional impact that will have a lasting impact on audiences, and film auteurs for years to come.