Every decade has them. Those films that leave you utterly breathless. Films that stun you with their excellence, beauty, and power. Films that stay with you long after the credits roll. Films that make it very hard for you to imagine not being able to watch them again. In this second decade of the new millennium, Gravity is one such film. It is a motion picture that has completely grabbed me from the very first frame and refused to let go, even in this moment as I struggle to find the right words to describe how much of an energetic experience it is. Suffice to say, Gravity sees meticulous filmmaking, astonishing acting, sharp writing, blistering music, and gorgeous cinematography all wrapped up together to deliver one of the greatest films ever made.
Gravity is directed by Alfonso Cuarón and is written by his son Jonás Cuarón as well as himself. It stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and tells the story of an astronaut and a medical engineer on a mission in space where an unforeseeable accident leaves them grasping for life. The motion picture is a science-fiction thriller that runs for one hour and thirty-one minutes.
A major factor in the enduring legacy that Gravity will undoubtedly leave is the incredible work Alfonso Cuarón has done in every part of this movie. I have long been a fan of his, especially after his other excellent sci-fi film Children of Men (2006), but he has managed to create an even better film here. Gravity is his masterpiece and the way he has used the unique special effects to help him envision this tale is among his many successes. He clearly is a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey by the great Stanley Kubrick as Gravity is filled with nods to that timeless science-fiction classic. His pacing of the movie is superb as he does not leave the audience with a chance to grasp for air during the action scenes but also remembers to sprinkle his movie with quiet moments that are wonderfully timed. Working with composer Steven Price, Cuarón makes the film’s original musical score work to perfection with those intense scenes too. The music is throbbing, haunting, and fills the audience with a feeling of dread as they watch those chaotic scenes unfold before their eyes.
Another aspect of Gravity that lends to its greatness is the writing. Having the film focus almost entirely on two actors only must have been a major challenge. However, Alfonso and his son Jonás overcome every obstacle as they are able to fill both main characters with enough emotion and depth to make audiences fully-invested in their fate on this dangerous mission. It is a sign of masterful screenwriting which Gravity has in spades.
The aforementioned cinematography deserves special attention as Gravity is filled with so many stunning pictures that make it easily the year’s most beautifully-shot motion picture. Working with common collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki, it is no surprise that Alfonso is able to give us this magnificent picture. Working in tandem with the cinematography are the ground-breaking visual effects. I have not seen a space film that has done the things Gravity has achieved. Indeed, the effects one witnesses in this movie are of the highest level as they help viewers to be fully-immersed in its world. It is the perfect match of cinematography and visual effects.
All of those various filming parts are given additional power thanks to the strong acting performances provided by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Delivering yet another excellent display after her Oscar-winning role in 2009’s The Blind Side, Bullock proves once more that she is able to take on big dramatic roles, fill them with her trademark charm, and produce an acting showcase that is one of the best in her career to date. Playing the role of medical engineer Ryan Stone, Bullock is nothing short of excellent. From the very first moment we lay eyes on her, we are connected to this character. Space movies are usually seen as cold and desolate but Bullock gives Ryan enough warmth, depth, and love to make it all worthwhile. Ryan bears the brunt of the catastrophic events that take place which makes her rely on her determination and bravery to get through them. I truly enjoy Sandra’s work in Gravity and believe that it is worthy of an Academy Award nomination, if not a win. A stupendous effort, for sure.
The other performance worth mentioning is that of George Clooney as the astronaut Matt Kowalski. Making the most out of his witty demeanor and magical smile, Clooney does an admirable job in Gravity. He makes Kowalski a character that provides the film with many of its comical moments which come as much-needed changes in the film’s tone. His chemistry with Sandra Bullock is also another element of his performance I enjoy. They just click in all their scenes together and combine both of their unique talents in Gravity to create a formidable space couple. Though Bullock’s character is the one that takes center stage story wise, Clooney’s work as Kowalski cannot be denied. It is simply another memorable performance by one of Hollywood’s most-loved actors.
I really do love Gravity very much. It is a film that reminds us why we love this unique and beautiful art form we call cinema. It excites, engages, and mesmerizes its audience in a way only everlasting movies can. It has directing, acting, writing, cinematography, and musical score of the highest order that combine to give us something truly special; in fact, how all those elements work as well as they do continues to stun me even as I write this review. There are not enough adjectives I can use to describe how much of a profound motion picture Gravity is. I am so glad movies like this Cuarón epic are still being made because it is those types of movies that show how powerful motion pictures could really be and how they are able to help inspire wonder within us all. Gravity is not only one of this year and decade’s best films. It is one of the greatest movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching. A spectacular cinematic triumph.
MATM Rating: **** out of ****
- Sandra Bullock (as Ryan Stone)
- George Clooney (as Matt Kowalski)
1 hour and 31 minutes
Drama / Sci-Fi / Thriller