[written Monday, with edits]
Viet and I saw “Gravity” on Saturday. This is the best movie I’ve seen in years. Hands down. The film’s currently pulling a whopping 98% rating on rottentomatoes.com (compared to other universally acclaimed films in recent years like 96% for The Social Network, 96% for the 2010 remake of True Grit, 93% for Zero Dark Thirty and 86% for Inception). It was expected to earn $40-42 million at the box office this past weekend. It ended up raking in almost $56 million.
I won’t give a plot summary as it’s hard to say anything that won’t spoiler it. If you’ve seen the trailer, you get the idea of what the film is about. Resist the urge to learn anything more before you see it. I went in knowing next to nothing about the story, and that was a wise decision. But if you want a small taste of what to expect, go on YouTube and search for “gravity detached”. It’s a 2-minute clip that basically sets the tone, and doesn’t spoil anything if you’ve already seen a trailer or TV commercial spot for it.
The film is only 90 minutes long but it held my attention from beginning to end. Not a single scene felt superfluous or unnecessary. The opening shot is said to be 17 minutes long. A single shot, showing the entire earth and the astronauts floating above it, and what happens when disaster strikes. It’s insane. There are basically only two characters in the film, played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock carries the film. If she hadn’t already won an Oscar for The Blind Side a few years back (which I never saw, but should) I’m convinced she’s win an Oscar for this film. Ed Harris supplies the voice of “ground control”, unseen in the film.
Visually it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. We didn’t see it in 3D but I’ve read it’s really filmed for that purpose, and doesn’t do anything gimmicky like hurl pieces of debris at the screen in a lame attempt to scare the audience. Alfonso Caurón, the director, also directed “Children of Men”, one of my favorite films of the past decade. The only unfortunate thing is that it took him almost 7 years to make another movie!
Naturally, the science behind the film has been nitpicked for its accuracy, but “Gravity” does not claim to be a documentary. It’s a fictional film, grounded in a premise of the all-too-real threat of space junk. And it’s a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, coming at a time when I was truly beginning to wonder if films could continue to pique my interest. A review from me is worth two in the bush, so heed my call when I say “see this movie!”