Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2013
Directed by
Alfonso Cuaron
90 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Synopsis: A medical engineer, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and an astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space. 

Technically Gravity is a superbly-made film (it won seven Academy Awards including Best Directing, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Original Score) and well-worth the price of ticket on those grounds alone. Perhaps even more so if you choose to see it in 3-D, which for once seems to be justified by the subject matter, although I saw it in 2-D and was a little relieved not to have to put up with the familiar floating objects, screwdrivers, pens and so on, not to mention Marvin the Martian.

It’s not just the representation of man and woman in deep space with its superhuman grandeur that impresses but the staging of the hair-raising struggle to survive the accident. Gravity is part spectacle, part thriller. Where the film stumbles is in matching the human scale to the larger vision.

The film opens questionably with Clooney zooming around Buzz Lightyear-like and bantering with Houston while Bullock tinkers with some malfunctioning equipment on the outside of their capsule. Once they are hit with a barrage of space debris and the fight to survive begins we move out of Pixar territory and into adult dramatics proper but you still want to ask, why Clooney and Bullock? The answer, one would suspect, is that they are two of the biggest box office draw-cards around and that their casting (or Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts or, heck, why not Angelina Jolie?) was necessary to get the $80 million project funded. It’s an evident and perfectly understandable recognition of commercial reality that exacerbates a more fundamental weakness, that of the script.

As a concept the film presented the opportunity to do something bold like, for example, Into Great Silence which respected the essence of a silent order of monks by minimizing any verbal explication.  With Gravity you have a literal analogue to the human condition  - aloneness in an infinite vastness.  And what do we get? Bullock in her undergarments (perhaps a reference to Sigourney Weaver's underwear scene in Alien) talking to herself and Clooney doing comic relief.  Despite its aspiration to awe, the film is compromised by its pandering to a perceived abhorrence of a void by the movie-going public. On this level there is little difference between it and any Hollywood escape film - in this case it’s outer space but it might have been a burning building or a sinking ship. Only in a scriptwriter’s imagination would getting back to Earth from outer space work out so well (do Russian space modules really come with how-to-operate manuals with child-like diagrams for those who don't speak the language?)

To bring it to its full potential Gravity needed a director of the rigour of Tarkovsky (in what cannot be an entirely accidental co-incidence Clooney played the lead in Steven Soderbergh’s re-make of the Russian director’s Solaris) or a Kubrick whose 2001: A Space Odyssey remains the iconic lost-in-space movie.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst