TIFF Review: “Gravity” – Emotional Weight in Zero Gravity

Written by Spencer Sterritt September 10, 2013

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Staring up at the screen and feeling totally immersed in the 3D visual masterpiece before me, my heart pumped faster than it ever has before when watching a movie. “Gravity” will leave you breathless long after you leave the theatre due to the fluid and intimate camera work, fantastic visuals, and Sandra Bullock’s heartbreaking central performance.

Though “Gravity” features little plot, it grapples with the intense themes of loneliness and survival, whether drifting in the abyss of space or back on solid Earth. Sandra Bullock stars as Dr. Ryan Stone, on her first voyage into space for research. When a massive fleet of space debris wrecks her spacecraft and sends her hurtling off into space, she has to rely on the calm leadership of the only other survivor, pilot Kowalsky (George Clooney) and her own survival instincts. At 90 minutes “Gravity” wastes absolutely no time, telling a lean and riveting story that still takes time to gaze in wonder at the sheer immensity of space.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

Having been in production for years, Alfonso Cuaron’s passion shows through in every frame. His camerawork is masterful, moving seamlessly from within Dr.Stone’s helmet and then back out to swing around her body and the debris. The camera never stops moving until the last act, and even then only for a moment or two. Cuaron has been praised over and over for his direction during his distinguished career, and “Gravity” marks a new high in his filmography. The camera moves with Dr. Stone and Kowalsky in such a way that you forget that you are a removed viewer sitting comfortably in the theatre, and you feel as if you can reach out and grab Dr. Stone to keep her from spinning wildly.

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The 3D effects must be praised. I am not a huge fan of 3D, mostly due to the fact that when the 3D is perfect and seamless you barely notice it, so why bother, but I absolutely must recommend “Gravity” in 3D. The imposing depth of space and the immersion would be lost without it.

Steven Price’s score is also impressive, compensating for the lack of sound in space with a mixture of large brass, violent strings, and ambient electronics that never seems like a Hans Zimmer derivative. While it certainly isn’t the most subtle film score ever, it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it brings the intensity that we are already feeling, thanks to the direction, and heightens it until you can barely stand it anymore.

“Sips of air, not gulps. Just sips.”

Sandra Bullock also deserves all possible praise. Her performance isn’t flashy, and she isn’t given much, but she works wonders as the cold and lonely Dr. Stone. There’s real panic in her eyes as the situation keeps on getting worse, and the way Bullock expresses what Dr.Stone is thinking, and how she is figuring out a way to survive, kept my focus squarely on her, even during the more spectacular and silent sequences.

Even though George Clooney is essentially doing his George Clooney thing by being the charismatic male leader, I still loved his performance. He brings just the right touch to veteran pilot Kowalsky, whether he’s trying to calm Dr. Stone down or panicking himself. Sandra Bullock certainly overshadows him here, but I feel he still deserves recognition.

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The real star of the film is Cuaron though. Everything in his career has been leading to this film. By the time the credits roll you’ve been put through an emotional wringer, and you won’t be able to relax for hours after. His passion, and the passion from his crew, is felt deep inside you from the first frame to the last, making “Gravity” the must see film of the year and one of the best science fiction films ever.

My Rating: 9/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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