It is amazing just how hauntingly effective complete and utter silence can be. While scary moments can come from a roar of a beast or something jumping out to startle you, it is almost more frightening to hear and see nothing at all. This premise is what director Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is built off of and it is done hauntingly well.
Gravity is about two astronauts (George Clooney and Sandra Bullock) who are stuck alone in space after debris comes and destroys their ship. They are then put up to the task of getting to another satellite so that they can get in an escape pod and go back to Earth. The first 10-15 minutes of the film are absolutely breathtaking as we watch the team of astronauts work with the backdrop of the Earth. While the two lettered stars are Clooney and Bullock, Cuaron makes the camera, and in turn the audience, the star of the film as we take the form of someone with the two actors, and at some points, the actors themselves.
This use of the camera as a central character creates the unsettling and terrifying mood for Cuaron. We become as part of the film and starting having to live the moments with the actors. As debris hurtles towards Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock), we are having it thrown at us as well and we try and get to where Stone needs to be going but we have to live through the frustration of the tossing and turning of no-gravity in space that makes it near impossible to clearly get to where you need to go.
Bullock shines as Dr. Stone and becomes completely immersed in the role. It was amazing to watch her become this character which is hard to do when you are a well-recognized Hollywood actress. The film has a “rebirth” representation and Bullock is the perfect representation for that theme. Her character is broken and afraid at the beginning as she is introduced to space and is instantly thrown into the worst possible scenario. Stone overcomes the obstacles and is reborn by the end, through some expert shots in the final scene.
What really makes this film special is the visuals though. The story is simple, which is fine, but nothing to write home about. Many plot points conveniently come to the characters but what makes it different is that the expert directing of Cuaron makes up for that with tense, well-shot moments that make you forget about these shortcomings. It is tough to fully comprehend or even be able to bring to words what all comes out of the directing and visual work of the film.
Gravity is more than worth your money to go see in theaters because it is one of those once in a lifetme films that you would be depriving yourself of if you didn’t see it on a big screen. Experience is probably the best word to describe it but it is also a great step for cinema and hopefully something to have more of in the future.