Gravity (2013)

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Gravity (2013)

Post  BoG on Sun Nov 16, 2014 12:52 pm


Gravity may seem to be about what it's like to be in orbit above Earth, and there is that, but it's more about the struggles and travails of an individual (Sandra Bullock). It's one of those very centered films, very focused, following along with just one character for most of the story. It begins with two, the other played by George Clooney - he plays the professional, experienced astronaut of the piece. Bullock's character is less of an astronaut and more of a technical associate, this being her first mission in space. So, the story impresses on us the significance of the events after Clooney's character is taken out of the story - Bullock's character is a babe in the woods and she's stuck about 100 miles above the Earth. The goal: finding a way down safely.

The other aspect to all this is the sense of helplessness. In the first act, the astronauts find out about the approaching threat - a satellite has been destructed and the debris is on its way. But, knowing all this ahead of time doesn't really help them much and they fail to avoid the oncoming disaster. Everything seems to happen in slow motion up there in space, up to a point; then it's on you abruptly and you are probably too slow to escape your own destruction. All perspective is different up there in orbit, much different from the familiar environs of Earth; it's all upside down, topsy-turvy, turned around and off-kilter. The film offers a series of these dizzying perspectives, throwing us these curves; we just aren't used to it - and certainly Bullock's character isn't either. Even during the moments when she sheds her spacesuit and is inside one of mankind's mechanical floating tombs up there, there's no gravity and she floats in an otherworldly haze.

All that said, there's also an emptiness to the proceedings. Sure, the visuals are brilliant and Bullock is an ideal choice as the actress to carry us along and keep us involved. But there's so much of the spectacular show of her constant jeopardy, such as barely catching the right grip on something to prolong her survival, that it outweighs the chances to catch one's breath and drink in her dilemma. We are awed at the technical brilliance and the visual splendor, but seeing her as a real human being near death happens only during brief periods throughout the film, such as those mentioned moments without a spacesuit, when she seems most vulnerable. It's most potent near the end, when she finally begins her descent. That's a little late. The narrative also throws in an overreaching backstory for Bullock's character - a dead daughter; by the end, this bit of old tragedy seems to tell us that even with such depression, she will still endeavor to survive against all odds. I'm not sure what the moral here is, except that mankind may be the ultimate survivor in the game of life & death - but it's usually an instinct, not this banal moralizing or messaging about what drives a human being - that's just too calculated and rehearsed. BoG's Score: 8 out of 10
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