“Gravity,” the much-hyped new film from Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a no-nonsense medical engineer on her first mission to space. She's paired up with George Clooney, playing commander Matt Kowalski, a veteran astronaut on his last mission.
While on a spacewalk outside their space shuttle, space debris unexpectedly obliterates their shuttle. Stone and Kowalski are the only ones who survive.
Stone is thrown from the shuttle and is left untethered and unable to move until Kowalski, who was wearing a jetpack to navigate outside the shuttle, can come get her.
From there, they must attempt to reach the International Space Station in hopes that it will still be functioning and able to provide them safe passage back to Earth.
Cuaron directs “Gravity” as his first major work since the 2006 “Children of Men,” a little-seen but very well-received dystopian, futuristic sci-fi film.
For “Gravity,” Cuaron is firmly at the helm again — in addition to directing, he co-wrote (with his son, Jonas Cuaron), co-produced and co-edited the film.
And it certainly feels like a Cuaron film. It’s slightly dark in tone but beautiful and poignant.
Much credit has to be given to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, whose distinctive style has made him one of the most recognizable and sought-after cinematographers in the business.
“Gravity” predominantly alternates between the claustrophobically small-view inside Stone’s helmet to the vast openness of space.
Either one would be a daunting challenge for most filmmakers, yet Cuaron and Lubezki capture both effortlessly — or, at least, it appears effortless.
Another huge factor in the movie’s success is the casting.
Bullock, while absolutely a talented actress, is better known for her comedic roles, her appearance in the indulgent “The Blind Side” notwithstanding.
She was also reportedly only offered the role after five other actresses passed on it.
And yet, Bullock gives her best performance in years.
She is in turns vulnerable, icy, tragic and hopeful. There are several points in the movie that left virtually the whole theater in tears, all thanks to her bravura performance.
George Clooney, the only other actor with screen time in the film, is also quite well casted. To be fair, he’s basically just playing George Clooney, but he does it well.
There’s great chemistry between the two, without which the movie would almost certainly not work.
Bullock should definitely receive a Lead Actress Oscar nomination, and I wouldn’t count Clooney out for the Supporting Actor category either.
Indeed, it would be shocking for “Gravity” not to receive Oscar nominations (and perhaps the win) for Best Picture, Best Cinematography and Best Original Screenplay.
Furthermore, this is absolutely the best film I have seen this year, with only two more months and few exciting films left to release in 2013.