Grav­ity sets San­dra adrift in space

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

THERE’S a scene that comes early in Grav­ity, Al­fonso Cuaron’s stun­ning tale of sur­vival, that will ab­so­lutely take your breath away.

Ryan Stone (San­dra Bul­lock), a ner­vous med­i­cal engi­neer mak­ing her first space-shut­tle flight, and her far more ex­pe­ri­enced co-pi­lot Matt Kowal­ski (Ge­orge Clooney), are as­saulted by a storm of space de­bris, the de­tri­tus of a de­stroyed Rus­sian satel­lite, that leaves them ma­rooned and fac­ing their own mor­tal­ity.

It’s an amaz­ing se­quence that shows a cun­ning use of tech­nol­ogy and makes the case that Grav­ity is one of the few films that de­mands to be seen in 3D.

Yet Grav­ity also has an emo­tional and spir­i­tual depth that, like 127 Hours, another film about man vs. iso­la­tion, tran­scends what might at first seem a gim­micky plot de­vice. The film evokes the gran­deur of the cos­mos from the open­ing shots of Stone and Kowal­ski out­side their craft, set against the vast back­drop of the universe and a beau­ti­ful blue Earth. She’s mak­ing re­pairs while he is bounc­ing around like a first-grader at re­cess.

But things take a turn for the se­ri­ous when that de­bris field slams into them, ul­ti­mately leav­ing Stone alone to per­haps drift to her demise. That’s when Grav­ity be­comes tense and sus­pense­ful.

While Bul­lock be­came a house­hold name by star­ring in more light­weight ma­te­rial, she holds her own here as some­one com­ing to grips with her fate. She’s also ex­tremely re­lat­able; it’s easy to iden­tify with her as the new­comer who finds her­self in way over her head.

Of course, Grav­ity isn’t the first movie to plumb the horror of dy­ing slowly alone. The likes of Open Wa­ter, Frozen and Buried have toyed with the idea of char­ac­ters hav­ing only panic and prayers for com­pany to vary­ing ef­fect, but few pack the punch of this film.

Di­rected by Mex­i­can di­rec­tor Cuaron ( Harry Pot­ter and the Pris­oner of Azk­a­ban, Y Tu Mam Tam­bin, Chil­dren of Men) and co-writ­ten with his son, Jonas, Grav­ity evokes a sense of spir­i­tu­al­ity with­out be­ing too heavy-handed or ob­vi­ous. With help from cin­e­matog­ra­pher Em­manuel Lubezki ( The Tree of Life), it’s also a tech­ni­cal mar­vel, util­is­ing $80 mil­lion worth

Grav­ity opens to­day. of the lat­est cin­e­matic tech­nolo­gies to pro­pel the story for­ward, not merely to daz­zle and dis­tract. That they do it within the con­fines of a con­cise, tightly writ­ten 90-minute story arc makes it all the more re­mark­able.

Like last year’s Life of Pi, another beau­ti­fully ren­dered tale about fac­ing the el­e­ments alone, there will be de­bates as the cred­its roll about how the Cuarons re­solve their story. Some will be dis­sat­is­fied; oth­ers will think it’s pitch-per­fect and of a piece with ev­ery­thing that’s come be­fore. But there should be no ar­gu­ment about the achieve­ment that the Cuarons – and Bul­lock – have cre­ated. San­dra Bul­lock in a scene from lost-in-space movie Grav­ity.

– CARY DAR­LING

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