In Search of Grounded Tenacity - 'Gravity' Review
The most impressive thing about Alfonso Cuarón's career has been his ability to tackle different genres with undeniable quality results. This is a guy who has made children's fables (A Little Princess), adapted Dickens classics (Great Expectations), elaborated one of the best dystopian thriller of all times (Children of Men), and created, by far, the best Harry Potter film of the saga (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).
The success of his projects is rooted in the fact that genres are mere structural frameworks to enhance the issues Cuaron wants to narrate.
The newest milestone in his filmography is Gravity. And despite being an ambitious, big science fiction adventure with decidedly horror and drama tones, this movie, at the center of everything, is a tale of the tenacity and the sense of survival as a fundamental trait of our humanity.
The plot is quite straightforward. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a biomedical engineer on her first space mission. Alongside her, there's a small crew commanded by Lieutenant Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who, in contrast to Stone, is a veteran astronaut about to break the record of space walking minutes. This is, of course, his last mission.
A surprising but standard Russian attack on a defunct satellite triggered a chain reaction in the form of a cloud of debris. The surprise factor, miscalculations, and insufficient reaction capacity culminate with a monumental disaster. The debris completely damages the space shuttle, killing most of the crew. Only Stone and Kowalski manage to survive.
From that point on, the enormous challenge is not only to survive but to look for a way to get back to Earth.
Cuarón manages the design of audio and images in a masterful way. Gravity is a story filled with a unique borderline-horror tension, with a giant monster in the form of darkness, ready to devour the few imperceptible sparks of life that struggle to return to their home.
Stone is prey in two levels: prey to her suffocating and claustrophobic spacesuit and to the major agoraphobia of the vast space.
Behind this fiction was an enormous amount of talent experimenting with cutting-edge technology to create the best suspension of disbelief in recent memory. Don’t believe me? Please google "journalist ask Cuaron space".
The audio design, adjusting to the fact that "there is no sound in space" (at least as we know it), uses reverberations, echoes and sound waves transmitted by metals and space suits.
The goal was to make the situation scientifically believable, which of course made the fear factor more real and disturbing. All that was emphasized with Steven Price's legendary score.
Gravity is what cinema as art should be. A simple premise not limited by reason, executed at the same time with an extreme reason, determined budget, creativity and incredible dexterity.
What's Your Rating For Gravity?
The choreography is perfect. The performances are superb. The cinematography is fundamental and the great "Chivo" Lubezki deserves equal or more credit than Cuaron. Those wonderful long-shots are a pure cinematic dream. The rhythm is perfectly in harmony with the theme of the lack-of-gravity space.
Gravity is so well designed that it even presents us with the option of interpreting the movie with hope or cynicism. This is a masterpiece about human vulnerability and our virtually imperceptible but tenacious passage through the universe.
This is a tale about reducing the ego by understanding our small magnitude, empowering ourselves in the process.
An unforgettable gem. One of the reasons we're still going, and must continue to go, to movie theaters.
Release Year: 2013
Director(s): Alfonso Cuarón
Actors: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards