By Isabella Hassel
First things first: Gravity is a terrific cinematic success, and it may be one of the best films of the year. Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer on her first mission in space, and George Clooney as experienced astronaut Matt Kowalski.
On this particular mission, their shuttle and all who had accompanied them have been blown to pieces, leaving them adrift in space to fight for their lives. Dr. Stone, though brilliant in her field, is terrified due to her complete lack of experience. She is also rather quiet and introspective, the result of a crippling loss in her life that the audience learns about as the film progresses. Kowalski, on the other hand is cheerful, flirty, competent and surprisingly insightful as he helps Stone to not only come to terms with her loss, but to survive and fight back as well.
Both Bullock and Clooney pull off their roles masterfully. Clooney demonstrates what audiences already know, which is that he is one of the most compelling actors of his generation, and Bullock proves once again that she can deftly handle roles that require depth and poignancy (see her turn as Leigh Anne Tuohy in 2009’s The Blind Side), not just light-hearted comedies. The man behind the camera, well-known for successes such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and Children of Men (2006), Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón has once again truly outdone himself with Gravity.
The film’s script is also strong: not exceptional, but certainly refreshing in an age in which movies have increasingly come to be known for their explosions and special effects rather than great writing. The script is honest, genuine and at times comical.
One of the most memorable lines and one at which the entire theater is guaranteed to laugh and understand human beings is when, after dodging yet another load of deadly shuttle debris, Dr. Stone exasperatedly huffs, “I hate space!” Stone is literally fighting against all odds, for her life, alone in space, and that is all she can say.
Another great line comes when Dr. Stone finds temporary shelter in a Chinese shuttle but cannot communicate with the Chinese man on the radio. Other parts of the movie make it clear that Stone, like most Americans, is not bilingual, and is therefore most likely just in possession of some basic High School Spanish. She says, at the point of exhaustion (once again, with Bullock’s trademark comedic timing), “No hablan chino.”
Gravity is also a visual spectacle that will leave you in awe of the beauty that is space in this film. It is simply stunning to see. It is impossible for this movie to not be at least in part a spiritual or religious experience, with views like that of the sun rising combined with the powerful emotional moments that will leave the viewer transformed. At less than two hours, this tightly packaged movie is unlike most that have ever been made. This will be an enriching experience that is highly recommended to all; it will defy expectations.