by Chris Olszewski | October 15, 2013 10:13 am
There is a quote by Antoine de Saint-Expury: “A designer knows that he achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” If this quote holds true, then director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Y Tu Mama Tambien) has just gone and created the perfect film in Gravity, a stunning experience that could, and by all rights should be in position to bring home a capsule full of little men named Oscar come early March.
What shocks me most, although it perhaps shouldn’t, is how Cuaron was able to do so much, create such a master work, with so little. The film clocks in at a remarkably speedy 90 minutes, the number of actors on screen at a time is never more than 2, and the film is largely silent, with the exceptions of the dialogue and Steven Price’s truly fantastic score, and it is this artistic choice, to keep the scenes largely silent fills the film with a sense of despair and loneliness that likely wouldn’t exist if there were the amount of sound you find in terrestrially-set films.
By far the most spectacular thing about Gravity is the visuals, anchored by Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning cinematography, whose crowning achievement is a 13-minute single, tracking shot that opens the film, and every single shot afterward is shot with a sort of craftmanship and beauty that does nothing but make your jaw drop to the floor with that first shot, and stay there for the rest of the film. The whole film has a rather documentary feel, and the first-person sections (actually pulled off right this time *cough*Doom*cough*) only cement the feeling that you’re there, a feeling that I don’t get very often in films, or media in general. Also helping this is the spectacular use of 3D in the film. Cuaron uses 3D to both illustrate the depth of space, and, in one awe-inspiring sequence, have space debris fly at you; it is a sequence in which you will jump from your seat. Guaranteed.
Not only is the space in which the film takes place visually appealing, the characters in it are believable. Sandra Bullock, who is alone for most of the film, in particular absolutely kills it in her role as medical engineer and first-time astronaut Ryan Stone, and she displays a sense of fear, trepidation, and anxiety that her character relatable and human. George Clooney is no slouch here either, showing a cocksure, nonchalant swagger as veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, who is out for his final spacewalk. Clooney’s character provides some comic relief, and there’s some genuinely funny bits to found in the script’s early going. Almost the entirety of the film, these two are stuck under space suits, meaning all they have to rely on for any conveyance of expression is their faces, and these two actors use their faces to the fullest extent that’s possible, and that elevates a script that is otherwise a standard survival story, albeit a very interesting one.
Gravity is an 2-person epic of a film, with amazing visuals, a great score, fantastic performances by Bullock & Clooney. It is something that should not be missed, and, if you get the chance, see it in IMAX 3D. It is the best use of the technology I’ve ever seen, even besting Avatar. The film is an event, something that, even if you’re only mildly interested in seeing, you should go just to say you did.
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