g ra v i t y
8th November 2013
Sandy 'n George
16th October 2013 (LFF)
Lone people in space do not seem to fare well. It’s an unforgiving place, lots of dark and very little to keep you from reeling off into the unknown. Bit like cinema then. Only with more chance of fatality.
Gravity takes us into orbit with Sandra Bullock’s medical officer Ryan Stone and George Clooney’s veteran Matt Kowalski. And to a much lesser extent Paul Sharma’s Deadmeat, sorry Shariff - very definitely filling the ensign expendable role on this one. I think I’m safe in saying that without accusations of spoilers. They’re up there repairing something or other on the International Space Station and that’s all the back story you need. Fragments of a Russian satellite swing by and all of a sudden there is a lot of screaming. And we all know what happens when you scream in space.
First and most obvious thing to say about this movie is that you have never seen a more impressive, realistic and visually deep view of space. It’s well documented that Cuaron and his team had to INVENT the technology to make this film and boy does it look impressive. I honestly felt my stomach go on a couple of occasions at the sheer depth of the screen. Continents drift under cloud in the background with a noticeable yawning gape between the surface and the actors. I saw this at the Odeon Leicester Square and it was that impressive. Screening at the Imax... Well, if you’re scared of heights, this is going to be one hell of a ride for you. It really is that effective.
Cuaron does an awesome job alternating between close shots of his actors, breath briefly steaming up their visors and huge long shots, his actors completely overwhelmed by the infinite depths of space. It’s an effective tactic. The claustrophobic clamminess of the astronauts suits contrasts brilliantly with the vast cold desolation of open space, something that the characters are only a missed handrail away from experiencing until their air runs out.
Bullock is fantastic in the role of Stone. Bereft after the death of her daughter and alone well before she got into space, her fight with not only the universe but also her own demons is at times devastating to behold. The inevitable numbness of drifting into space is constantly fought off... but only just. It’s obvious that she will be nominated for an Oscar for this and there is every chance she will get it. And she will absolutely deserve it. Clooney plays his part as the cheerful, calm veteran, desperate to beat the record for spacewalking and constantly chivvying Stone and Mission Control along with his anecdotes. It’s a nice easy part for a man of his charm and it’s a smart contrast to Stone.
I have my doubts as to how well Gravity will age though. Outside it’s stunning technological achievements and a masterful performance from Bullock...there’s not really a lot going on. I wonder how well the slightly corny storyline will hold up and it’s difficult to think that this will have anywhere near the same impact once it gets to DVD. In some senses it reminds me a lot of Jurassic Park and Avatar. They were both event movies that utterly blew me out of my seat on first viewing but, certainly in the case of the latter, didn’t especially trouble my consciousness afterwards.
But none of that is really the point here. Gravity is a truly spectacular experience. It’s what we should be cheering at the cinema because it pushes the boundaries of technology and it transports us, hook line and sinker, into another world (all be it one floating just above ours). It puts one of cinemas most bankable female stars completely front and centre and she lives every stomach shifting, eye popping, last gasp of it. Cuaron has taken a technology that I’ve consistently berated as redundant and literally thrown it right into my face. I’m not about to do a volte-face on the issue as I've always been a huge fan of Imax cinema and this film will soar on that format but for once, even the standard 3D added to the experience.
Go and see this film on the biggest screen you can find (I’m sure I’ve written that sentence before..), if that’s an Imax, then all the more reason to get out there. For 91 minutes you’ll be utterly transported to a different place. And isn’t that what we’re all looking for at the movies?
Check out the trailer here.