"“One that is bound to outlive us all...”"
“I hate space” is a line fastidiously muttered by Sandra Bullock's Ryan Stone in Alfonso Cuarón's epic science fiction production Gravity. Well, Sandra, you're on your own in that one – because this familiar cinematic stomping ground has never looked quite so incredible up on the big screen. The film, which was a huge hit at Venice Film Festival, is bound to have equally as powerful an effect on British audiences upon its release.
Ryan Stone is one of just two bonafide characters within this title, as she is joined by Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) – a medical engineer and astronaut, respectively, on a mission in outer space. However disaster strikes when a satellite's debris thunders in their direction, destroying their shuttle and any immediate hope of returning home. With oxygen levels dangerously low, the pair – separated in the accident – have to work on finding a way to safety, as a race against time settles their fate.
As a film that absolutely demands you see it up on the big screen, Cuarón has created a picture that leaves the viewer sitting there amazed throughout, with their mouths slightly ajar, somewhat unable to comprehend quite how this miraculous piece of cinema was put together. Not just from a grand, fantastical point of view, but to the smallest of details too, such as the immense use of reflections on their helmets. You never once doubt these two actors aren't actually in space. It simply looks amazing, and the way the pair graciously float around in space, both weightless and delicate, it conflicts against the terror and destruction that looms, all played out against the placid looking Earth – a consistent backdrop to this tale.
Considering this film is set in a place with no atmosphere whatsoever, the film itself has it in abundance, with an intensity and suspenseful nature that remains prevalent throughout, as you always feel on edge, despite the tranquil surroundings. The other consistent themes are that of loneliness and isolation – both being exquisitely and expertly dealt with. It's fascinating to see how life is pondered so succinctly and subtlety, as Ryan Stone analyses her own existence, and while she is staring death in the face, we witness as she discovers the true values to a human life.
Bullock is fantastic as the lead – and Clooney, who has a considerably less amount of screen time – remains equally as effective, in what is a perfectly cast role. He plays the role with such a sincerity and an inherent optimism, where he finds the natural beauty in an otherwise tragic set of circumstances. Meanwhile, you wouldn't be blamed for being sceptical about how this premise can be stretched out over a feature length running time, yet time simply flies by.
Whether you're a science fiction fan or not, Gravity is an intelligent and emotional character study and poignant take on life as we know it – as a film that is so much more than you could possibly envisage. It's simply a masterclass in filmmaking, and an astonishing achievement for Cuarón – as the Mexican has produced a film that will be remembered for a long, long time, and one that is bound to outlive us all.