Gravity (2013) Film Review from the 57th Annual BFI London Film Festival (LFF), a movie directed by Alfonso Cuaron, starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, Paul Scharma, Amy Warren and Basher Savage.
Gravity is a visual masterpiece and an emotional powerhouse. There are only a few films which could have taken the viewer’s breath away with their appearance the way Alfonso Cuaron’s film does. Among these films are Titanic, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and Avatar (to name a few). You will not believe the amount of artistry, detail, and beauty involved in every single shot, even as you are watching it. This is why Gravity doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t even let you consider it as it allows you to effectively feel the atmosphere of space. I have never seen another film which submerges you in its fictional world as thoroughly. This is an experience from start to finish. I never thought about anything else during its run time except Ryan’s journey. Ingeniously directed and produced, it is a gorgeous looking and skillfully told story about the opposition between space and death, life and home.
This is certainly the best looking film I have ever seen. We have all seen many visually thrilling, grand-scale spectacles. Gravity, however, is not simply large and epic. It is also undeniably realistic and irresistibly beautiful within every single frame. Every single screw on the ship, every joint on the astronauts’ spacesuits, and every little dusty particle on their outer space gear is visible, shiny, and stunningly realistic. No element is present to convince the viewer that Gravity is not completely real. With Earth in the background, giant and lovely with the eternal constellations filling the universe of the film, I was completely blown away.
Cuaron is not a single vision visionary. Not only does he know what to put on screen and how to put it but he is also perfectly aware of how to boldly move the camera to great distances and trajectories in order to craft an image into a feeling. He doesn’t waste a single shot and fills the ones he does create with as much energy and spectacle as possible. In space you are alone and there is nothing to distract you except the urgency of your task. Everything you do is life or death; everything matters, just like every shot in this film.
The camera movement contributes greatly to the powerful emotions in Gravity. When Cuaron wants us to feel the supremacy of space over man, we see a landscape shot of the eternal sea of stars with the tiny figure of Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) drifting wildly into the void. When Cuaron wants us to feel Ryan’s fear, we first adopt her point of view from within the helmet. Then as she realizes the hopelessness of her situation we move out of it to see her begging for help when there is none, spinning in her doom in the darkness, slowly getting devoured by the gloom.
Alfonso Cuaron proves his qualities as a solid writer as well, alongside this son. It is true that the story, the acting, and even the emotion is more or less overshadowed by the incredible visual qualities of the film. The film is, in a way, as wise as it is beautiful. There is a beautiful message at the core of the film. Ryan is up in space, fleeing humanity, trying to let go of the pain that binds her to Earth. In space, in the absence of gravity, in the absence of human problems, in absolute silence, Ryan seeks refuge. As NASA Astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) puts it: (paraphrased) “it is so simple, so easy to shut down all the systems and just let it go.” Then the accident strikes and the truth is revealed to Ryan: running away from home and hiding from pain instead of fighting it means giving up on life. As she struggles against certain death in space, she fights for the spirit in her heart. It is a wonderful parallel: the battle for one’s physical and spiritual existence. The word gravity here doesn’t stand so much for the natural phenomenon. It above all symbolizes difficulty. Without difficulty none of us will truly live. This is what Cuaron tells us through Ryan’s adventure.
All in all, Gravity is a wise, exceptional in its looks, powerful in its emotive impact film, ornamented with tremendous visuals, solid acting, superb directing, and a clever story. Gravity is the best-looking film of all times, the finest work of Alfonso Cuaron, and the most spectacular thing you will see on the big screen in 2013.