In Review: Gravity

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After attracting early buzz during the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, was released this past Friday to a full theatre anxious to see what all the hype was about.

The film takes place in space where medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) and veteran Captain Matt Kowalski (Clooney) are on the verge of completing their mission before disaster strikes when wreckage from a nearby satellite decimates their space shuttle. The two are left helpless in the abyss of space and are forced to work together in an attempt to reach the International Space Station where they can board an emergency escape pod and return home to Earth safely.

Throughout the entire duration of the film the two protagonists are in space, floating in the abyss amongst the wreckage of the last remnant of civilization within sight.
As a result of the desolation of space, the empty environment becomes a character of its own that looms over Bullock and Clooney while serving to bring them closer together.
Cuarón’s direction employs vast wide shots and a panned out scope to both emphasize the beauty of the Earth below and to show the haunting aspects of nothingness that envelops the two astronaut’s surroundings.

While the film received a $100 million dollar budget, it isn’t the bloated blockbuster designed to ‘wow’ audiences purely based on special effects and studio set pieces. Instead, it combines stunning spectacle and beautiful cinematography that reminds one of Planet Earth, and injects its own dizzying visuals with a beautiful instrumental score and a heavy thematic tone that strikes one to their human core.

Ultimately, it is Bullock’s character that bears a vulnerable presence in the film which shifts the emotional tone of the film from a science fiction thriller to a dramatic character study of human connection and loss hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface.

It is in the outer depths of space where Bullock discovers her inner solace involving the loss of a loved one. Through her internal reconciliation of this pain, she realizes a feeling of resonation that reminds her to continue fighting for the gift of life that she has been given and was on the verge of letting go of forever.

Unfortunately, for filmgoers who prefer an action-filled narrative with turning points, Gravity won’t be your feature of choice.

Instead, Gravity is a suspenseful thriller of aesthetic beauty where the viewer is invited to remember how, even in the allegorical loneliness of space, we must try to preserve the connections that we still have and cherish them until the bitter end.

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