Gravity (2013)

It’s been a long time since both the release of Gravity and the last time I wrote a review. Though Gravity released a long time ago, I got a chance to catch it in the theatres only recently, and couldn’t wait to review it. What links most of the great films that are made is the ability to transport the viewers into a completely different time and place, and, in the case of some films, to an entirely new universe. Not since James Cameron’s Avatar in 2009 have I enjoyed an experience as immersive as Gravity. Achieved by seamlessly merging live action with the most advanced visual effects technology especially developed for this film, Gravity takes us to outer space in a way that no movie has before. It feels like we are also a part of the story and are floating in outer space. “You have to admit one thing; you can’t beat the view,” George Clooney’s seasoned spaceman Matt Kowalsky announces early on in the film, bobbing and floating against a awe-inspiring expanse, as his rookie partner, Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone, attends to a mechanical problem on the Hubble Space Telescope. When oncoming debris from a Russian satellite explosion destroys their shuttle, the two astronauts become aground in space. Gravity peeks into the most frightening and destructive side of technology, and gives us a realistic view as to what is about to happen if man disregards the natural course of things. , the way the current condition is. Using his camera masterfully, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron takes us to the heart of the action as if we’re experiencing it ourselves. When Bullock’s harness snaps and she begins spinning uncontrollably, expect to feel overcome by nausea. When she’s struggling to hold on to a corner or a ledge of the shuttle even as she’s floating away from it, more than likely you’ll be digging your nails into the armrest, panicking for her safety, and chorus of words like “Oh! Fish!” & “Holy Shit!” will be echoed from the hall. As anyone who’s watched his terrific 2006 film Children of Men will tell you, Cuaron isn’t afraid of shooting long fluid takes. The film’s 13-minute opening scene (during which we’re even briefly introduced to an Indian astronaut, Sharif, humming “Mera joota hai Japani”) is nothing short of a marvel, as is at least one other soundless scene that nicely demonstrates Bullock’s isolation. Stunning sequences in which our protagonists navigate space in zero gravity are further enhanced by the filmmaker’s intelligent use of 3D. If anything feels bulky here, it’s Bullock’s sentimental back-story involving a dead child, that’s likely revealed in order to squeeze every possible drop of empathy for the character. Alas it wasn’t required! Her effort to survive this hostile terrain is enough by itself to generate genuine drama. Bullock, in fact, is in excellent form, meeting the film’s intense physical demands and taking the character’s emotional journey in equal stride. Clooney, meanwhile, turns on the charm as the jesting astronaut, his confidence and calmness a nice foil to Bullock’s permanently tense demeanor. For all its slick technical wizardry, Gravity is about hope and courage and the will to come out alive. To best enjoy it, go in with patience and an open mind. I’m going with four-and-a-half out of five.