Gravity – Film Review

I’ll keep this brief.

It’s only fair. Gravity does not waste a second, and I feel obligated to do the same. Every scene, whether breath-taking or breath-catching, is designed to keep you in the immediate moment. It’s a simple story, if you can even call it that. More closely, Gravity is an exercise in tension, juxtaposing the beauty of space with its mercilessness.

Alfonso Cuarón makes a masterful decision here, one that few other writers would have made. At 91 minutes, Gravity fully commits to its premise, never leaving the vacuum of space for a character-developing flashback. In an alternate reality, Gravity is a full two hours, with bloated, boring scenes of astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) dwelling on their pasts.

Gravity’s characters and their backstories aren’t particularly groundbreaking, but it doesn’t matter because the film does not force feed them to us. Their stories are told along the way, on the move, in a way that never detracts from the immediate moment.

Clooney is fun as a wise-cracking veteran and perfectly cast — if you need a charmer, George Clooney is your man. Bullock feels…somewhat interchangeable. Perhaps another actress could have truly owned the role (and I’m sure some will argue that she does), but I felt like she got the job done, nothing more. I can’t help but wonder if her casting had to do with her previous role as a certain bus driver. That said, I have no real complaints, because I wasn’t thinking about the quality of the performances as I was watching.

I wasn’t thinking about much but what I was seeing. Gravity is a deeply visual film, so much so that I implore you see it on your finest IMAX 3D screen. The 3D is the most breathtaking example of the technology I’ve seen. I dodged, I flinched, I was there in the vacuum of space.

I want to gush about the continuous shots that build on Cuarón’s accomplishments in Children of Men. I want to praise the film for its use of sound — or lack thereof — and how it strengthens the terror and tension of the events rather than muting them. I could say a lot more nice things about Gravity, but I’ll leave it at this: See it. Just do it. Don’t watch another trailer, don’t spoil another out-of-context moment for yourself. Just see it.

One last thing for those that have seen the film. I have a thought and a criticism that only came to me after the fact and that I recommend you only read after you’ve watched it. It isn’t THAT important, but I want to say it: One issue I have with Gravity is how white-washed the film is. It’s a film about modern day space travel, but while it recognizes the presence of Russia and China up there, it treats anything non-white, non-American as nothing more than set-piece and cannon fodder. It’s especially alarming to see a Mexican director making a film that’s so… ‘MERICA. I worry that someone along the line felt this was the only way to sell a normal space movie to a mass audience and that thought is a bit upsetting.

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