Spellbinding cinematography, mind-blowing special effects and tension inducing performances so suffocating that you'll feel like you're running out of oxygen - Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is a piece of cinematic art.
On a mission to routinely repair an orbiting telescope, astronauts Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Capt. Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) are faced with an indefensible threat; debris from an exploding satellite.
Cuarón's direction, paired with Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography seamlessly integrates real performers into an entirely fabricated weightless environment. It's an immersive experience and you sweep lyrically through the scenes like the ebb and flow of waves leaning in and out of shore. Cuarón is the reigning champion of reducing his films to as few a cuts as possible. Sitting in a cinema seat watching Cuarón's Gravity feels more like being strapped into a rack. The longer the shots continue, the more pressure that you feel is exerted onto your chest, just when you feel like you're about to have to check your vital signs the scene cuts and you exhale. Cuarón wants the audience to feel as utterly helpless as the characters and to emphasise humanity's connection to our planet and its environment to the forefront of your comprehension.
The script by Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón (the Cuarón's) packs a mean philosophical punch. It encapsulates the true scope of space better than any space film I've seen to date. There's no 'hyperdrive' or 'beaming up' to catapult you across the gaping abyss; there's the terrifying reality that space travel demonstrates mans infantile need to remain close to our technological bosom.
Bullock delivers a suitably intense and memorable performance. Not only does she convey a focus that forms a facade for a deep inner torment with deft (and subtle) gestures, but it's her physical performance that anchors the film. Whether performing sharp panic breaths, straining her face to a sallow mask as she's bordering on the edge of consciousness or the visual poetry of her weightless balletic contortions, you're riding every hair raising moment.
Clooney's Matt Kowalsky feels like he's plucked right out of The Right Stuff. He's the wise and effortlessly brave veteran who weathers the storm of debris and the oppressive silent vast space that surrounds them with a stunning cool. His calm drawl and kit bag of familiar stories are the perfect distraction for his less experienced counterpart. Lastly Ed Harris' voice from Mission Control brings some 'space film' pedigree (The Right Stuff, Apollo 13) and dulcet familiarity to 'home'.
Not since Ridley Scott (Alien and Blade Runner) has a filmmaker done more for the Sci-Fi genre. Gravity is undeniable. See it on the biggest screen possible, you will feel the epic profundity of being lost in space.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris (voice)
Original Music by: Steven Price
Cinematography by : Emmanuel Lubezki
Film Editing by: Alfonso Cuarón & Mark Sanger
Blake Howard is a writer, a podcaster, the editor-in-chief & co-founder of Australian film blog Graffiti With Punctuation. Beginning his criticism APPRENTICESHIP as co-host of That Movie Show 2UE, Blake is now a member of the prestigious Online Film Critic Society, sways the Tomato Meter with Rotten Tomatoes approved reviews. See his articulated words and shrieks (mostly) here at Graffitiwithpunctuation.com and with DarkHorizons.com & 2SER Sydney weekly on Gaggle of Geeks.