We’ll be seeing the movie at a special Cinema Society screening in November with writer-director Alfonso Cuarón in attendance for a Q&A, but I didn’t want to wait. Not after reading all the glowing reviews and not after hearing so much about the movie’s 3-D wizardry. So Michael and I went to the theater tonight, strapped ourselves in and put on the glasses.
Unfortunately, it hadn’t dawned on me that a story about two astronauts stranded and suspended in space might just trigger an anxiety attack in someone with an acute fear of heights. In other words, the movie, as good as it is, was pure torture for me. My stomach was in a knot the whole time and the minute it was over I headed for the nearest glass of wine.
That said, it’s quite an achievement in filmmaking and the 3-D experience is spectacular. When George Clooney is practically floating into your lap it’s pretty damn exciting.
I was expecting more of a “2001: A Space Odyssey”-type adventure with musings about whether we’re alone here on Earth and what lies beyond. But “Gravity” doesn’t waste time pondering the cosmos or our place in it. It gets right to the business of telling a heart-stopping survival story. Sandra Bullock is front and center as the astronaut who has to figure out how to stay alive after her mission with Clooney goes horribly awry. She hyperventilates through it all as she dodges asteroid debris, bodies of her dead colleagues, exploding space capsules, etc. She’s inexperienced and still grieving the death of her young daughter, but she must face enormous obstacles along her hero’s journey before finding her will to live.
I missed Clooney after he left the story, but Bullock does an admirable job in what’s essentially a one-character piece. She’s given interviews about how difficult the role was for her and I don’t doubt it. She works hard, or rather her character does. We relate to her. We root for her. We want her to figure out how to get back to solid ground and make a new life for herself. I could have done with less on-the-nose dialogue about why it’s important to “enjoy the ride,” but the movie packs an emotional punch nonetheless. Does she get an Oscar nomination? Absolutely. Is the movie a Best Picture nominee? For sure. It’s not my favorite genre, and I would have loved to have seen what a director like Terrence Malick would have done with the subject, but I quibble. It’s definitely worth the ride, even though it nearly put me into traumatic catatonia.