- Vishaal Desai
Directed by - Alfonso Cuaron
Written by - Alfonso Cuaron & Jonas Cuaron
WARNING: SPOILERS ahead!
Gravity is a film that deals with isolation, loneliness, claustrophobia, hopelessness and the necessity to maintain one’s instinct for survival amidst all those factors. This is not the first film to touch on those themes, films like ‘Moon’ (Duncan Jones) and ‘Buried’ (Rodrigo Cortes) have used those themes to great effect, but it is the sheer breathtaking visual experience that makes Gravity stand apart from the others.
The opening shot – one long 17 minute take – introduces us to the characters in a succinct but detailed fashion, giving us just enough insight into their background and personalities before the story thrusts them into one dire situation after another.
The story itself is equal parts thrilling and haunting – Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is making modifications to the Hubble telescope, when debris from a destroyed satellite collides with her shuttle, instantly killing all the crew apart from mission commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) and Stone herself, who is sent hurtling into the abyss of space, a victim of her own inertia. Adrift and out of contact with mission command, Stone is stranded, with her only chance of survival resting on her ability to make it to one of the space stations orbiting Earth.
It is a great struggle that Stone, on her first mission in space, has to undertake to overcome her own internal demons and a fast depleting oxygen tank and Sandra Bullock pulls out all the stops in her performance, giving us a character who displays an equal amount of strength and vulnerability. Her portrayal of Stone’s emotional journey is subtle and complex, with very little trace of Hollywood fluff.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the trajectory of the story itself, which suffers from a rather anti-climatic third act. The story is rife with images that display mythic metaphors like death, resurrection and rebirth. For example, there is a shot of Stone asleep in Zero-G, stripped off her space suit and curled up like a fetus inside the International Space Station. Moments later, a fire breaks out and almost consumes her. There is also the use of water as a metaphor for life, for instance Stone crying during a hopeless moment and her tears, instead of trickling down, separate from her skin and float away due to the lack of gravity.
As good as Sandra Bullock is, the real star of the show is the Cinematography with Alfonso Cuaron once again bringing an incredible sense of space to his visualizations. Just as he did in ‘Children of Men’ he finds the most improbable of places to put his camera, thereby giving us a wide range of interesting perspectives. Emmanuel Lubezki, who was also the Director of Photography on ‘Children of Men,’ has done a masterful job in depicting space as a real location, using 3D to great effect to create an environment that envelopes the audience. ‘Point of View’ shots are cleverly spread through the film, without being overused, to put us literally in Stone’s shoes. As a Director, Cuaron once again proves his ability to intelligently use the environment to tell the story. His vision is ambitious and effectively combines the grandiosity of visual spectacle with a very intimate character-driven story.
Overall, ‘Gravity’ is stunning film and an enthralling experience, particularly on IMAX 3D.
VishRates - 3.5 / 5
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