It has been 7 years since Alfonso Cuaron directed a feature film, Children of Men, and Gravity proves the wait has been worth it.
Medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and accustomed astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) are brought together in space when Stone is employed as a specialist to trial new medical equipment that can also fix space gear. Kowalsky is the chatty astronaut who tells an anecdote or two to calm the nerves of space newcomer Stone. But their task is cut short when a series of satellite debris crosses their path and destroys their shuttle. With little oxygen the pair are left to fend for themselves in space.
Gravity is an absolutely stunning film. The visuals are extremely believable and the 3D never draws attention to itself, instead it beautifully enhances the visuals just as it should. This is therefore an extremely immersive experience which is complemented by the splendid acting from the two leads. George Clooney still manages to be just as charismatic in space as Matt Kowalsky but it is Sandra Bullock who steals the show as Dr. Ryan Stone. Vulnerable yet strong, she is the epitome of the ordinary person in space who happens to have to deal with an extraordinary set of circumstances. One particular scene, where she is merely dressed in her underwear, is reminiscent of Ripley in Alien, and this is surely a deliberate intention.
The film never feels like it is treading on old ground though, it feels fresh and new, space has never been seen like this before. Point of view shots are used to incredible effect and many times I really felt like I was there in space with them. The spinning motion of the camera as Stone is flung around and around in space is expertly achieved and the special effects and cinematography, by Emmanuel Lubezki, really are breath taking. The story is kept nice and simple, written by Cuaron and his son, its strengths are its subtle character development and gut wrenching unpredictability.
At points I actually found myself holding my breath, as I waited to see the fate of the characters as they battled extreme situations. This will no doubt have you literally on the edge of your seat due to the sheer believability of what you are seeing. It is because of this level of believability that one can truly invest in the characters and become completely drawn into the story.
Bullock is surprisingly good as Stone and proves she really is a great actress and Clooney works his magic as a bit of light relief when needed and also the calm when under pressure hero. With Bullock having a large portion of the screen time to herself, the film really depends on her and luckily she doesn’t disappoint.
This is tense and emotional filmmaking at its very best and a lot of this is down to the fantastic music by Steven Price which despite becoming a little clichéd at the very end is, for the most part, affecting with menacing tones. In my opinion the film should have finished a couple of minutes earlier, avoiding a cringe-inducing moment but luckily this does not deter from the overall experience of the film.
A combination of great acting, storytelling, visual effects and music have resulted in a smashing experience that is definitely worth seeing on the big screen and in 3D. A thrilling space drama with a beautiful aesthetic.
Gravity is out in cinemas on 8th November 2013.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Stars: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
Runtime: 90 mins
Country: USA, UK