Gravity is the kind of film that possesses enough beauty and wonder on the screen that it could just be stared at and enjoyed.
That might be quite boring for some, but Alfonso Cuaron crafted a movie that pops off the screen, especially in 3-D, a format that’s been battered and bruised financially with recent film releases. If there were ever a reason to see a movie in that version, Gravity is it. It’s subtle, but eye catching and Cuaron uses it to great effect.
But Gravity just isn’t eye candy. It’s a film with a heart, soul and a bravura turn from Sandra Bullock, an actress who’s endured through the years, won an Academy Award and will likely find herself nominated for another come winter.
That’s because Bullock carries this film, one that features just three actors – one of whom is George Clooney as space shuttle pilot Matt Kowalski – in a film that explores the most personal of human tragedies.
It’s introspective but has enough action to build a tremendous amount of tension to make the heart race and rise to the viewer’s throat.
Bullock stars as Ryan, a NASA mission specialist who joined the space program to escape her past, one that includes a dead daughter and living in limbo.
Some of the movie’s better moments come when she and Kowalski talk about their respective lives. The pilot is the free spirit while Ryan’s consistent melancholy shows a woman who has quit her life. Working in space may be one way to escape the planet, but she can’t be rid of the memories.
But she faces a crisis, a test of her resolve and will to live.
A debris shower from a misguided attempt by the Russians to destroy a spy satellite destroys their shuttle leaving her and Kowalski stranded in space.
Ryan’s panicked, Kowalski become her anchor, saving her and eventually directing her through their next maneuvers, which includes two critical trips – one to the International Space Station and the other to a Chinese space station.
All of this forces her to re-examine the way she’s been living as she faces a life-or-death situation to get back home.
Bullock gives a performance with so many different layers and emotions that it’s hard to imagine her in that “America’s sweetheart” persona she’s been cursed with since early in her career. It’s a part laced with longing, humor and hurt and she’s brilliant through all of it.
Cuaron deserves praise for bringing that out in her, but it’s in film’s overall look, tone and composition that makes this a tremendous accomplishment.
Gravity should not be missed.
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Cast: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rated: PG-13 (for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.)
Running time: 90 minutes
George’s rating: 4.5-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com