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Film Review: 'Gravity' is out of this world

PHUKET: While watching Alfonso Cuaron's space-set drama, Gravity, audiences may be slightly distracted by what's on screen – it's called art.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Tuesday 22 October 2013, 09:01AM

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in Alfonso Cuaron's space survival film

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in Alfonso Cuaron's space survival film

In the film, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are stranded in space, desperately trying to get back to safety. The two were making repairs on the Hubble Telescope, when things went badly wrong and they were sent tumbling through dark silence.

Cuaron wastes no time in putting the action in motion, and the audience is immediately enveloped inside this universe, feeling almost as much anxiety as the stranded pair on screen.

Cuaron's last directed film, 2006's dystopian Children of Men, was one of the most impressive movies of the last 15 years, and employed several long, drawn out one-take shots.

In Gravity, the Mexican director uses the technique to perfection, panning between characters against an infinite backdrop that screams for attention – one shot alone runs a full 17 minutes.

Cuaron uses these no-cut shots several times throughout the film, challenging the modern audience’s attention span, too accustomed as we are to short takes and chopping, dynamic camera angles.

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Similarly, Cuaron uses silence as a third character to emphasise the feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, fear, and isolation. Though music is employed in key moments, it seems the silence is just as powerful.

Prepare to hear the crunch of popcorn from your fellow theatre-goers. The absence of sound puts more stress on our astronauts, and on us, the audience.

As a survival story, much like in movies such as Alive and 127 Hours, Gravity questions just what you will do to live. Bullock deserves another Oscar nomination for her performance, her best role since 2009's The Blind Side.

It is criminal that Phuket does not have an IMAX theatre (though local audiences can watch Gravity in 3D at both Jungceylon and Central Festival), as this is a film that should be seen with the works. It makes you feel small and insignificant as you make sense of the story and lose yourself in the isolation.

Gravity is what can happen when directors push the boundaries of technology, story, and elements, both audio and visual. Audiences will clearly enjoy the ride, but will later come to realise – after the credits roll – that this was not just a movie, but a work of art by one of the top auteurs of our time. 

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