Oscar nominee review: Gravity


By Gage Van Dyke

A team of engineers work on the Hubble Space Telescope, all tethered to the giant machinery. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) diagnoses the telescope while Matt Kowalski (George Clooney)  accompanies her, along with the rest of the engineers. In the midst of light-hearted conversation, the team is contacted by their headquarters in Houston.  A Russian missile launch has obliterated a satellite, and the debris is hurtling towards them. The team of engineers are helpless as the debris thrusts onto them like a galactic tidal wave. Stone and Kowalski are separated, a conflict that showcases the impeccable coming of age story of Stone and highlights one of the most emotional and gravitating performances Sandra Bullock has ever done.

Isolation is a magnetic and important element in Gravity. The audience searches for life in the star-dotted galaxy as Stone searches for Kowalski. The backdrop is cold and vast, spotlighting the warmth and vulnerability of Stone. When Stone finds Kowalski after barely holding onto her sanity, she tells the story of her daughter, and how she died while running around on her school’s playground. Stone was driving when the incident happened. The camera beautifully zooms and focuses on Stone’s face as she confesses that she just drives to escape her darkest memories, one of the most personal moments Gravity offers.

Scenes where Stone desperately reaches for leverage as she falls down towards Earth grip the audience’s fears. When the camera switches into first-person, they experience the fast pace and panic of Stone as she searches for something to hold onto. These action scenes excel by connecting the audience with Stone through fear and doubt. What if Stone cannot find something to hold onto? What if there is no way to get back to Earth? How long will she survive in cold space?

The chemistry and familiarity Bullock and Clooney bring to the screen is refreshing. Bullock never comes off over-dramatic or frantic. The tenseness she creates within her character grips the audience as they cling to their chairs as she bounces from flying debris. Clooney’s charm combats the dread of the movie. The audience will laugh with his one-liners, and while Bullock’s character searches for him, the audience feels the pain of his absence. The film examines how the galaxy is even colder without Clooney’s character’s corky pizazz and young humor.

Gravity triumphs by using pure human interaction and the trial of surviving as it’s foundation. Even though space itself seems so distant, Gravity pushes the audience into a habitat that feels so familiar due to our fears of the unknown. Gravity is an incredible ride worth experiencing. It’s ability to warm and startle hearts at the same time is a feat that many should experience.