If you spend any time on the internet (and you obviously do) you’ve probably heard all about Alfonso Cuarón’s visual masterpiece, Gravity. At one point over the weekend ‘Gravity’ was the top trending hashtag on Twitter. It premiered on Friday and earned over 55.5 million in theaters, taking the number one spot at the box office. I opted to see it in XD & 3-D, but if there was an IMAX nearby I would have gone in a heartbeat.
After a few days to think about the movie separate from the overwhelmingly positive opinions of others, I’ve determined that Gravity is not a typical film but rather an engrossing visceral experience.
Co-written, co-produced, co-edited and directed by Oscar nominee Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski, astronauts who are left drifting in space after a massive accident and must work together in order to survive. In a large, dark, and chilly theater, it’s nearly impossible not to find find yourself completely immersed in the story – free from any ounce of distraction because what’s on the screen is so enveloping you are forced to remain present. You begin to worry about the characters and yourself at the same time. When the characters struggle to breath, you struggle to breath. When they drift, you drift. You are just as alone as they are. You are just as afraid.
Gravity is a flawless visual masterpiece – the cinematography and special effects are historically unsurpassed. But what Gravity gains in stylistic beauty, it loses in its story. Triumph and rebirth are especially popular themes within any form of story telling, and particularly common are stories of physical triumph. Will the character survive? Will they land their jump? Will they get out in time? It’s so overdone that oftentimes any sensation of concern is lost; we know they will survive because we know it’s a Hollywood film and survival is an important part of the formula. If they don’t survive, then they will have a redeeming ending in which they discover some important notion they’ve been missing all along – the key to any thoughtful death. Without giving it all away I’ll say that I believe Gravity’s story conforms to such Hollywood standards. Basically, It’s been done before.
But as I said before, Gravity is a-typical. It’s almost unimportant that the story has been done before because the visuals are so remarkable. In that regard, nothing like it has ever come before. The audience struggles along with Ryan and Matt in the most intimate of ways: alone in space with no other comforts or contact. Equally as brilliant as the visuals are Bullock and Clooney’s performances. Bullock carries most of film on her own, providing an exceptionally powerful performance in a fiercely difficult role to pull off.
Gravity is one of the most beautifully shot and edited films in the history of filmmaking. For that reason alone, you should see it. I also recommend seeing Gravity in 3-D