- Sandra Bullock as Dr Ryan Stone
- George Clooney as Matt Kowalski
Visually arresting, thrilling and often quite moving, Gravity is one hell of a film to sit through. Under the creative direction of Alfonso Cuaron and a powerful turn by Sandra Bullock, Gravity is an exhilarating thrill ride with an emotional heart about a dramatic race for survival against all odds.
Dr Ryan Stone is a rookie medical engineer on her first spacewalk, partnered with the more experienced astronaut Matt Kowalski, on what is to be his final space mission. They are attempting to fix a problem with the Hubble Telescope. Kowalski is a humorous old veteran of space travel with a multitude of funny stories to tell as they set about fixing Hubble, whereas Ryan is a nervous relative newcomer with a painful incident in her past( the death of her young daughter) that leaves her with emotional scars and uncertainty.Just as they manage to fix the Telescope, they are warned of a planned strike on a defunct Russian satellite, which has caused a cloud of debris to head their way in a chain reaction. Soon enough, the debris arrives with devastating impact and Stone and Kowalski are left tumbling through space and fighting for their lives in a void of darkness. With communications down and oxygen supplies running dangerously low, it is up to Stone and Kowalski to find a way to survive and make it back to Earth. Prepare for a spectacular but intimate movie that throws you into the terrifying reality of being cut off from all communications but also shows the determination we must use if we wish to live on.
The first thing to compliment Gravity on is its visuals which are nothing short of beautiful. The film opens with an uninterrupted shot that circles Stone and Kowalski as they fix the Telescope and reveal the shining Earth below. From this opening shot, you are just in awe of the beauty of it all. When disaster strikes, the use of point of view shots and tracking shots as Stone spins precariously into danger make for tension-filled viewing as we are put in her terrified shoes and made to endure her pain. The claustrophobia of these scenes is palpable and Cuaron perfectly plays them as terrifying by taking us on this dizzying ride of uncertainty as to whether these characters will survive this disaster. Throughout Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron gives masterfully sublime direction, perfectly complimenting the visual scope but also the intimate and emotionally stirring moments that abound underneath the spectacle. He deservedly won the Oscar for Best Director for his stunning work here that gives us a spectacular view of space but a terrifying yet beautiful evocation of the human spirit out of its comfort zone and trying everything to enable it to live on. While Gravity is very much a sci-fi thriller of the highest order, there is at the centre of it a very human drama about the need for survival and letting go of painful memories. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the scene of Stone finding solace in the air lock of another ship and curling up in a balletic fashion into the fetal position in a symbolic rebirth. The evocative score backs up the themes of terror and determination with subtle instinct and ever-growing power, before building to a crescendo of beautiful and heartfelt exhilaration as Stone begins to discover her inner strength.
Sandra Bullock turns in what is to me her best performance to date as Ryan Stone. She carefully imbues her with a fragile vulnerability as she has to contend with fighting for her life whilst also grieving for the daughter she lost back home. It is a physical and emotional performance that gives a human heart to Stone as we watch her use these painful experiences to her advantage and give her the determination to survive whatever is being thrown at her. On screen for the entire duration and for many stretches alone in a desperate fight for survival, Bullock has rarely been better than here and I hope she chooses more roles in the future that show of her excellent range of emotions. George Clooney is in a sense playing himself and adds a light touch to the beginning of the film when he tells his many stories before all hell breaks loose. Clooney though is overshadowed by the excellence of Sandra Bullock’s one-woman show.
Exhilarating, moving and spectacular, Gravity is a film that once seen is never forgotten for its powerful and stirring impact, stunning direction by Alfonso Cuaron and moving performance from Sandra Bullock.