Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone - tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. They have lost communication with Earth...and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.
Review by Louise Keller:
We are on edge throughout. There is no respite, no relief, no safety net and the fact that almost the entirety of the film takes place in space instills tension and a profound sense of claustrophobia. Tranquility is contrasted by chaos; ethereal beauty by destructive disruption. Y Tu Mamá También director Cuarón has crafted an extraordinary survival story in which the solitary nature of the reality plays a huge role. Like Life of Pi and All Is Lost, in which Robert Redford battles the elements at sea in a boat, Gravity is a space adventure, in which the surrounding elements are the enemy. The story is simple; the consequences are not. This is a unique experience - engaging, confronting, thrilling and often terrifying. It is easy to follow George Clooney's instructions when he says: Enjoy the ride.
The film begins with a breathtaking sequence. Sandra Bullock's Dr Ryan Stone is trying to resolve a problem outside their space shuttle 600 km above earth, while Clooney's Matt Kowalsky is space walking and freely looping as though he were performing in a Cirque du Soleil spectacular. 'Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission,' Kowalsky says jokingly before jumping headlong into an anecdote that he has clearly recounted before.
Kowalsky's experience and Stone's lack of it show in a myriad of ways, starting when the alert is received to abort the mission. The bulky space suits restrict movement and the metallic debris that comes hurtling through space as a result of the Russians having shot down one of their satellites prompts a mayday scenario. There are terrifying moments as Stone becomes detached from her mooring and drifts aimlessly through space, in need of rescue.
With oxygen levels diminishing and panic setting in, I like the scene in which Kowalsky leads Stone through space in a bid to reach a Russian Space Station. There would have been nothing unusual about their conversation - about her life at home - if it were not for the circumstances.
One misadventure rolls into another, the tension escalating all the while and the stakes getting higher and higher. Steven Price's score injects pounding rhythms and jarring intervals as if to accentuate our discomfort. As Kowalsky, Clooney epitomises the voice of experience, offering comfort and unexpected slices of humour when we least expect it. Bullock's performance includes much discomfort and physicality.
For most of us who will never experience floating in space and drifting perilously among debris, this film is perhaps as close as we will get. There is a sense of freedom about the way zero gravity allows fluid movement, albeit in these circumstances. What is wonderful about Cuarón's film and Emmanuel Lubezki's extraordinary cinematography is that we feel as though we are living the experience.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Gravity is what gravity does - it draws you, grips you and doesn't let go, a unique, two hander disaster movie that is astonishing in both conception and execution. Together with perfect casting and a superb score, Gravity gets its exclamation mark from the astute use of 3D - adding a layer of thrills at key moments. Hell, they're all key moments.
A disarmingly beautiful image of earth floating and rotating slowly in silent space introduces us to the voices of Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) through their helmet comms. They are floating in space around the space shuttle, exchanging formal and informal banter with each other and with ground control. These early scenes establish the two characters through dialogue, as we learn they are working together for the first time.
The emergency is developed and delivered with masterful filmmaking, and we see the disaster in all its awesomeness. By some cinematic sleight of hand, Alfonso Cuarón makes it seem as if the film is shot in real time - adding yet another edgy element.
The space of space is superbly used by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to create atmosphere (as it were) and the drama escalates in a ripple of consequences. Shot almost entirely in weightlessness, Gravity creates its own cinematic environment in which the only anchors are the human heart.
Clooney is the veteran, the charmer and the comedian, but there is more to him as we find out in riveting circumstances. With the right mix of offhand courage and profound humanity, his Matt Kowalski is perfectly formed.
Bullock, in her best role and performance since Speed, carries a great deal of the film's emotional payload, delivering a sensational performance that relies on close ups of her face for a great deal of the time, often inside the space helmet.
There are emotional texture and self-discovery moments that add to the total experience.
Thrilling and exhilarating, Gravity packs a punch.
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GRAVITY 3D (M)
CAST: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney,
VOICES: Eric Michels, Basher Savage
PRODUCER: Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman
DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón
SCRIPT: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Emmanuel Lubezki
EDITOR: Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger
MUSIC: Steven Price
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andy Nicholson
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 3, 2013