Alfonso Cuarón is one of the 5 best directors of our time. As writer, producer, director and co-editor, he is the sole artistic and creative mind behind "Gravity."
The film is the best Sci-fi film since "Space Odyssey" but with a superior sound mix. It's ironic; the superior sound mix comes not always from what we hear, but from its absence. Our identification with the main character, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), has more authenticity when we hear as she hears. What I'm referencing is the muffled sound of the tools that she works with. Further, the suspense heightens when she/we don't hear the collisions that are going on in the background of the image.
The camera work and sound mix are two aspects of the film that reminded me of two other films from the past. The first, and obvious parallel, is with Stanley Kubrick's "2001: Space Odyssey." The Extreme Close-Up shots of Bullock with the Earth in the background reminded me of the "space child" in "2001." In "Gravity" the child has been transformed to a woman; the child has grown up. The second film is Carl Theodor Dryer's, "Passion of Joan of Ark." In both films the leading characters succumb to the external forces that catapult them into a "vertigo" spiral downhill.
The script hit all the plot points, with turns in the story every 15 minutes, which leave you on the edge of your seat. The tension is further heightened by the subtle and "anxious" score of Steven Price. "Gravity" doesn't have the philosophical agenda of "2001", but on the other hand it doesn't have to. "2001" focussed on society's computed dependance and warns that our obsession with technology could lead to our downfall. This film shows us something else. We all, or almost all of us, would like to venture into space and experience the world from the heavens. And it is beautiful, as we are shown, but at the same time inhospitable and a cold-hearted (pun intended) environment.
All of the space "grace" can be summed up in one sentence, that leads naturally to a second. The first one, "nothing can survive in space" and if you spend enough time there you might say what astronaut Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) said "I hate space." Thus "Gravity" can be said is a "survival" film. The majority of sci-fi movies deal to some extent with "survival" in space, but "Gravity" has more heart than the last 15 "sci-fi-survival" movies combined.
Amazing directing and writing talent is required to keep suspense in a film that has one and a half actors. Sandra Bullock carried the film with an inspiring grace.
Fascinating camera work, tricky shots, incredible "invisible" visual effects, and most of all, prodigious directing, is what you will see. In two words, "pure" and "unadulterated" cinema.
For the first time I felt what an astronaut feels, and what it would be like to "fly" around the Earth.
4 / 5
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Staring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris