“Houston, i have a bad feeling about this mission” Kowalski, GRAVITY (2013)
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The premise of Gravity is so simple that it really can be summarize into one sentence. Yet as i find this review i found myself struggling to find the words to convey my thoughts and feelings, all of which are overwhelmed by the film. In the words of Tyler Oakley in an apt tumblr lingo: ‘I can not even begin to even‘. I think the last film that made me feel similar sentiment was Cloud Atlas, but it was for a different thing altogether.
Alfonso Cuarón’s latest feature film is one rare cinematic gem. It utilizes current cinematic technology to the maximum extent, defining the new limit and defying what was thought to be an impossibility. Like what Cameron did with Avatar, Scorsese’s Hugo, and Lee’s Life of Pi, Gravity is a visual feast on its own, delivering gorgeous space cinematography and brought technological advantage of filmmaking to a new level of artistry. yet it remained very simple at heart, and manage to deliver a compelling performance by it’s actor in a story that can be universally engaging and relatable. While a lot of sites put the film under the genre of Science Fiction which is not inaccurate (although it lead some people who weren’t familiar with the genre to expect some kind of alien life form to pop up in the middle of the film), but i personally felt the film is more a thriller drama in a form of survival film. But let’s not dwell on that.
Sandra Bullock headline the film almost as a singular and central character, Ryan Stone, with what felt like an extended cameo by George Clooney as Kowalski, a role that would be well suited for RDJ (not a surprise considering he was one of the possible cast for the role). Bullock endures what was a gruelling physical journey as well as a transformative spiritual one. She’s a broken vessel, merely existing but never realy felt alive after a tragedy of loosing her daughter. Through conversation with Kowalski, we learned how jaded Stone was, living each day almost on auto-pilot, loosing interest in almost anything. The incident drove Stone to the edge of survival, she can choose to simply give up and call it quit or she can try her darnest to survive. A very simple plot lines indeed. Despite there are rather weak moments in the story, i think the simplicity of it manage to divert it from becoming a genre films, all thanks to the well put and well restrained control of Cuarón.
Cuarón manage to draw a paralel of rebirth and faith restoration through allegorical approach during Stone’s journey. Theological references could be found, as Stone herself begin to face her own demon and fears, while trying to reconnect and found a semblance of hope, and that glimmer of faith. Stone journey could be seen as a character study of a lost soul as she rediscover herself in a theological context. There were interesting karmic cycle in the movie, of ‘what goes around come around’ philosophy. Like when Stone almost lost her life because of a parachute, only to be saved by one in the next moment. I guess these things made the simplicity of the film become rather divine and special.
This movie is obviously made by precision. There were a lot of moments to point out from the film. The long extended shots of a gripping events that marked the begining of our white-knuckled journey. The perspective that shift from a third person perspective that transitioned smoothly to a first person point of view. A tight close up on Bullock face and eyes that reflected her fears, with the panoramic planetary view of the universe unfolded, reflected on her helmet. The colors, the flying debris, the choreographed dance of the camera following as Stone was tumbling in the dark abyss. Everything was captured to enhanced the tension, to heightened the experience of the film viewers. Emmanuel Lubezki expertise in capturing moods through lens was impecabbly done here. And the world of Gravity was become actualized through the extremely meticulous eye of Andy Nicholson production design.
Another factor that enhance the Gravity experience for me was the amazing sound design courtesy of Glenn Freemantle. The thrill and horror was exuded through the use of heavy, deafening silence interspersed with heavy, deafening sound effects. The film was rendered with a heart-pounding score from Steven Price. It really was a gorgeous, gorgeous film, with a atmospheric sound that gives you that extra edge of a movie. The effect seemed subtle, but it was effective.
Gravity was such an immersive experience, gorgeously shot with a premise that will engage you for its deceptive simplicity The use of 3D are not too significant, since it some of it was post converted, but it deserved to be screened in the biggest screen you can find with the best sound system. I guarantee it worth every penny you paid for an IMAX screening. Even though this is still very early for an award season consideration (assuming more serious contender usually surface later this year), Gravity deserves several nominations in the awards season for what it had achieved. It deserves nods for Cuarón’s Directing, Bullock performance as lead actress definitely deserve a nod from the academy, Lubezki’s Cinematography, Art Direction, Original Score, Sound Effects Editing and Sound Mixing, and who definitely a well-deserved Best Picture nomination. Fingers crossed, i hope, it will lead to some wins too.
Gravity is a game-changer: a small step for a film, a giant leap for cinema.
GENRE Thriller, Drama
DIRECTOR Alfonso Cuarón | PRODUCER Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman | WRITER Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón | MUSIC Steven Price | SOUND Glenn Freemantle | CINEMATOGRAPHER Emmanuel Lubezki | PRODUCTION DESIGNER Andy Nicholson | EDITOR Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger | STUDIO Esperanto Filmoj, Heyday Films | DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros. Pictures | COUNTRY United States, United Kingdom | BUDGET $100 million | RUNNING TIME 90 minutes | RATING PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language | RELEASE October 4, 2013 (US)
STARRING Sandra Bullock, George Clooney