REVIEW – Gravity

Tethered
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Published October 3, 2013
Inquirer Libre

Gravity
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Once every generation, a film alters the way we experience cinema.

By that I mean there’s a new way of experiencing movies, and Gravity is the one to change that. I didn’t say, “the heavens have opened and Jesus has appeared.”

I keep using the word “experience” because that’s what Gravity is. At the end of the day, Gravity is a minimalist story of survival and determination but told with an ingenious, methodical use of the latest filmmaking techniques.

Superficially, Gravity has a thin and predictable story – Survivor ala Open Water in space.

“Huston, I have a bad feeling about this mission,” says veteran astronaut and mission leader Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney.) He says that to start a joke, because he wants his crew to feel relaxed as they work in space 600 Km above Earth repairing the Hubble telescope. The view breathtaking. Cinematography, design and effects in seamless synergy. The opening scene is the main reason I believe this should be seen in 3D.

Not long after, it’s mayday. A freak accident in space has sent thousands of satellite debris into a collision-course with the team and all hell breaks loose as the debris decimates space shuttle Explorer, the telescope and half of the team.  Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) tries everything her body and mind can do to cheat death in an environment that does not permit life.  As a thriller, Gravity is 93 minutes of non-stop-, pulse-pounding- spectacle. That last sentence alone is enough reason for you to see this film.

I can use a bunch of words too, like, “edge-of-your-seat-thriller,” “visually spellbinding,” or “emotionally satisfying.”

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity represents a new chapter in the history of motion picture and is a testament to the power of the medium. And it must be experienced in 3D. I believe half of the experience is lost if not in 3D. Of course you can still enjoy the film as a thriller in 2D. But I believe part of the film’s conceit of immersing the audience in space are the subtle suggestions of distance and depth, making for a colder, more claustrophobic cosmos.

Then there’s Bullock’s powerful performance as a human being struggling to survive the elements. One of my favorite scenes is in the middle part, when Dr. Ryan manages to enter the Soyuz capsule – a moment of respite before Murphy’s Law strikes again. There’s a shot of her (seen in the trailer) floating in a fetal position, nestled in the womb of the Russian space station.

It’s because of that single frame of Ryan in a fetal position that we may understand what Cuarón ultimately is attempting to convey. Just as the tubes in the spacecraft resemble umbilical cords, Cuarón’s repeating motif of tethers seem to signify that we humans should never let go of this one object that connects us, binds us together even as we reach far out into the heavens – not with ropes or bridges or radio or FaceBook or smartphone apps that keep us connected with each other – but this magnificent, wonderful, fertile and rare blue planet that we all call our mother.

Gravity is a humanizing experience.

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