Sunday, October 20, 2013

Space oddity

Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” is mostly set in space, a cold backdrop for an oddly named astronaut, Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), who finds herself drifting in the void and with very few options after getting separated from her space shuttle and fellow astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney).

Powered mainly by Bullock’s stellar performance—although Clooney’s Matt is an important, well-played presence—“Gravity” is a gamble that paid off quite stunningly. Relying mostly on green screens to recreate the vastness of space and a priceless view of the Earth, the film mines Bullock’s authenticity and uncommon charisma. The result is nothing less than a powerful, if somewhat exhausting film.

Some scenes have been disputed by experts; the science of the film is apparently far from perfect. Among those questioned were the distances between depicted points, which were simplified and made unrealistic by the film, supposedly.

Scientific facts aside, it’s a film that isn’t subtle about some philosophical points, but not in a “Life of Pi” way. Regardless, Ryan’s backstory is perfectly disarming, even when flashbacks aren’t shown and her tale is only verbally related by Bullock, whose steady, energized performance makes us follow and respond to her unusual, nerve-wracking journey.

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