Gravity ***** (out of five)
If I found an old lamp right now, and I rubbed it, and a genie came out, and he granted me three wishes, I’d use one of them to raise Stanley Kubrick from the dead so I could take him to see Gravity. He’d like it.
To call Alfonso Cuarón’s film (written with his son Jonás) the greatest ever made would be to rush giddily to a ludicrous superlative, but there is no doubt that this is the most technically astonishing film ever shot. Considering Cuarón and his incredible team had to create technology to make it, this is not a stretch. Never has weightlessness been so well realized on screen, but that is the tip of the iceberg (and speaking of icebergs, James Cameron wishes he made this film). Never has a camera moved this way before. The opening shot, well over ten minutes, is breath-taking. The VFX are flawless and beautiful. And the 3D (and this film is absolutely made in 3D – don’t see it any other way) is, well, the best use of 3D in the history of the medium.
What is truly surprising and wonderful is how deft the storytelling is and how moving the film is, how much it has to say, how much feeling it has. Telling the simple tale of a couple of astronauts blindsided by a catastrophe while in orbit, Cuarón manages to take on Life, The Universe and Everything.
Sandra Bullock is the human heart of the enterprise and she is magnificent. I cannot imagine what bells and whistles she had attached to her while making this (she’s weightless the entire time) but she’s never chatting to the proverbial tennis ball on a stick. Fully present and fully emotionally committed, it’s the performance of her career (and if she doesn’t get the Oscar – which I very much doubt she will – she can consider the one she got for The Blind Side actually meant for this, accidentally given early (see Crowe: Russell, Gladiator v. A Beautiful Mind).
I am reeling from this experience in a way that reminds me why cinema is my thing. Pure and true in every respect, it is a perfect movie, in that no element is out of place, no intention unrealized. Told almost in real time, in a taut ninety-one minutes, it achieves total unity of time, place and character. It is a work of the highest art.