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Gravity is Breathtaking September 20, 2013

Posted by Alichat in Life, Movies.
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I mean that figuratively and literally. Director Alfonso Cuarón’s (Y Tu Mamá También, Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban) new drama set in space had me holding my breath, clasping my chest, and clenching my fists at various times during the hour and forty minute journey. I thought I’d have a small problem viewing the film, being set in space, and you know, that whole lack of air issue. But there is so much more that grips you. Since this was an early screening, I expected that we’d have some talkers in the theatre. And you know how I feel about people who talk in the theatre.*  They always seem to follow me, and considering how loud people were just entering the theatre last night, I braced for the aggravation. Aside from the occasional ‘Oh my god’ from the woman next to me, there wasn’t a peep from anyone in the theatre. Not a word. Abby felt it was a testament to how fully the audience was pulled into the film, and I have to agree.

Gravity 2013 Movie Poster
Gravity
begins in complete silence to a spectacular view of earth from space.  We see the space shuttle orbiting earth, bay doors open, with a crew busy working on a satellite.  Medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock,) is tied into the retractable arm and quietly working.  As Ryan works, it’s apparent her fellow crew members are much more comfortable orbiting earth, as she tersely rejects Mission Control’s concerns with her increasing heart rate.  The most laid back is Mission Commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney,) who is buzzing around the shuttle, untethered, on a jet pack listening to Hank Williams Jr.  Just as soon as we are settled into this serene moment, all hell breaks loose.  An accident damages the shuttle and the arm, sending Ryan spinning into space.  Matt, the calm voice in the chaos, calms her down, jets to her aid, and we watch as they fight to survive and return home.

The story, written by Cuarón and his son Jonás Cuarón, could be seen as just a simple story of survival.  However the film is layered with subtle revelatory moments and stunning visuals.  As they struggle to survive, Ryan is tethered to Matt, physically and mentally.  Clooney does a wonderful job of portraying the level-headed veteran, not only calming Ryan and the audience, but also still remaining expertly charming while floating in space.  Bullock is the heart of the film, struggling to not only survive, but also to hang on to a reason to survive.  Many times, and this was a smart move by Cuaron, we see what Ryan sees.  As she’s spinning adrift in space, trying to get her bearings, the camera moves in on her panicked expression, and pans to look out from her visor.  The sound becomes muffled, and we become Ryan. We see what she sees, feel what she’s feeling, anchored by Ryan’s panicked voice.  It’s emotionally and visually impressive.  The CGI in this movie is seamless.  There is only one thing that really points out that it actually isn’t taking place in space.  And based upon my conversation with Abby and the ‘Oh my god’ theatre-goer, I seem to be the only person that noticed it. But as you know, I dissect a movie a lot.  And if you are a 3D hater, please get past that.  It should be seen in 3D.  I actually may go see it again at my local IMAX theatre.  The 3D was perfectly done.  It wasn’t so much that it pulled you from the film.  It was just enough to keep you there.  Debris flies toward you, tethers and cords become tangled and seem to whip past your head.  It was used to help immerse you, not scream like a neon sign ‘hey, look at this 3D!’  And because the movie is so visually awe-inspiring, I feel that even if the story was awful, the visuals are worth seeing on the big screen.  Luckily, Cuarón was smart enough to cast two actors that bring true fear and pain to their roles.  Limited because of their character’s location, they convey volumes just through facial expression and vocal tone.  Go see this spell binding film. It will make you want to live and to appreciate the small, beautiful things in life.

* The Wisdom of Shepherd Book

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