US Release Date: 10-04-2013
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
- Sandra Bullock, as
- Ryan Stone
- George Clooney, as
- Matt Kowalski
- Ed Harris, as
- Mission Control (voice)
- Orto Ignatiussen, as
- Aningaaq (voice)
- Paul Sharma, as
- Shariff (voice)
- Amy Warren, as
- Explorer Captain (voice)
- Basher Savage as
- Russian Space Station Captain (voice)
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity.
Rare indeed is the day that I see a new movie and feel the urge to gush about how great it is. October 4, 2013 was one such day for on that date I discovered Gravity, a film by Mexican auteur Alfonso Cuarón. Gravity is cinematic poetry at its most breathtaking. It tells a simple tale of terror set in Earth's orbit. It is both a work of startling originality as well as one that brilliantly incorporates many classic Hollywood tropes. In short, it is a work of genius.
From what is sure to be regarded as one of the all-time great opening shots, to the symbolically perfect ending, Gravity pulls you in and keeps your attention riveted to the screen. Visually it is one of the most stunning movies I've ever seen. Without any intrusive CGI smoke and mirrors it takes you into outer space so realistically that you may actually feel short of breath during certain scenes.
Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone a biomedical engineer making her virgin space shuttle mission. George Clooney plays veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski, commanding his final mission in space. Disaster strikes within the first few minutes and never lets up till the very end. Rarely have I so identified with screen characters trapped in a life-threatening situation. And as unlikely as it seems the juxtaposition of the extreme realism of the situation with the fact that Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are such iconic movie stars really works.
Bullock has the bigger role and she carries several scenes completely on her own. While I have never thought of her as a particularly great actress she really nails the part. The script throws in just enough details about her past that we feel we really get to know her, and an occasional ironic quip helps alleviate the movie's relentless tension. Clooney plays a noble hero who makes wisecracks and loves telling colorful anecdotes about his past adventures both in space and on the ground. He's a romantic throwback to the type of hero played by Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart three quarters of a century ago.
I cannot recommend Gravity too highly. It is destined for the pantheon of classic movies and if it doesn't win Best Picture at this year's Oscars that fact will no doubt be considered a travesty by future movie buffs. Go see it now!
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
How much more rare is the movie that makes me want to gush about it as much as Patrick. This is indeed a brilliantly filmed, well acted and tense thriller of the very best kind that grabs ahold of you from the very first scene and doesn't let up until the credits roll. I don't know that it will win the Best Picture Oscar, but it's almost a certainty than no other movie that will be nominated is as likely to be as entertaining as this one.
As Patrick wrote, this movie puts you into outer space in a way that movies rarely do. I suppose you could call this movie science fiction, but very little about it feels like fiction. It really feels as though Alfonso Cuaron and his very small cast of two actors went into orbit to film some of these scenes. Perhaps even more astonishing is that the special effects, as fantastic as they are, never dominate the film. They only act to enhance the central performance of Sandra Bullock, making her situation all the more real and frightening.
The filmmakers spent 4 and a half years putting it together. Much of the time was spent developing the technology to make the actors appear as if they were in the weightless environment of space. A great deal of time was also spent on casting the only two actors to appear in the film. Robert Downey Jr. was attached for a long time, but eventually dropped out, as was Angelina Jolie, who stepped aside to work on her own film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, which was released in 2011 and goes to show just how long this movie was in development. Other big names to have been rumored to have expressed interest in the female lead were Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Marion Cotillard and dozens of unknown. His final choice of Sandra Bullock was fortuitous for both director and actor alike as it is likely to garner her another Oscar nomination.
Cuaron is known for shooting long takes and this movie is no exception. There are several scenes that run 8 to 10 minutes without a cut, while the opening scene that sets that stage and grabs you by the seat of your pants runs an astonishing 17 minutes without a visible cut. Even more exceptional perhaps in this day and age of butt numbingly long blockbusters, is that this tightly edited thrill ride runs under 2 hours without an extraneous moment in the entire film.
Like Patrick I recommend this movie as highly as I possibly can. It is indeed an instant classic.
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Gravity, for all of its amazing special effects, is merely a tale of how a woman learned to live again. Through the sparse dialogue, we learn that Ryan is depressed over a family tragedy. Because of the exceptional circumstances she finds herself in, she develops a strength and drive that she has not had in a long time.
There is some beautiful symbolism to be found here. Look at how she is in the fetal position at one point and then of course there are the uncertain steps. Through her experiences, Ryan is reborn to a new understanding and appreciation for life.
Gravity is a visceral experience. You are amazed by the location and bowled over by the special effects. Although it is set in the infinity of space, Gravity tells a very intimate story. We feel for Ryan every moment of her journey. Whether just breathing hard out of fear, or scrambling to hold on, physically and mentally, we connect with Ryan.
Not only does Gravity pull you in, as Patrick wrote, it grounds you in the reality of the human desire to connect with someone else. Although Matt is the most likable and charming of people, Ryan sees him as nothing beyond a co-worker. Of course that all changes when her life depends on him. Ryan had to experience ultimate solitude before she could again appreciate the company of others.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. (2013)