Monday, October 7, 2013

Terrified and Adrift with a Breathtaking View

Rarely has a movie in recent memory affected me like Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity.  I knew I was going to like it on some level, because I like Cuaron's films.  Throw Sandra Bullock in there and you have a guaranteed satisfied customer.  Though I've read numerous articles about Cuaron's practices behind the camera, I didn't expect the emotional pull I'd feel towards Bullock's character.

The movie begins with beautiful silence, something unexpected for a space film.  Normally, we are bombarded by a huge ship or with a cluttered bang, but Cuaron deafens us with near-silence from the first frame.  Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first mission to space.  She is accompanied by Matt Kowalski, a seasoned astronaut who seemingly can't shut up.  This is a man who expects everyone to raptly listen to his stories.  This charming man is played by George Clooney, an actor with charm to spare.

Stone and Kowalski are informed that a chain reaction has caused a shower of debris to hurtle in their direction, and they are ordered to end their mission.  Within minutes, Explorer has been damaged beyond usage, Stone is adrift, and they have lost all communication with Mission Control.

The beauty of Gravity mainly rests on the simplicty of it.  It's a simple premise with breaktaking visuals and some knockout performances.  Sandra Bullock is such the right choice for this role, because audiences can truly connect with her even though she is playing a character that is far off from her previous performances.  This would have been such a different movie with Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johansson.  I couldn't stop looking at her eyes.  They're full of such dread and sorrow in this film.  You can tell how this acting experience is radiating throughout her entire body emotionally as well we physically.  The images of Bullock crying in one scene have been imprinted on my brain and heart.    

It's one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.  You could pause every moment and frame the picture for your living room wall.  I don't know if it was because I was seeing it in IMAX, but the sound design also radiated through my entire body.  I could feel rumblings in my chest to the tips of my toes.  Gravity is a film you experience--not see.  This is my first ever (probably last) endorsement of 3D technology. 

It's a stunning piece of work about rebirth and fear. 

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