The fluffy, pastel palette of the Earth falls into vision. Suspended for this moment above the globe; the hollow sound of silence pulsating on the ear drums; the sun lighting the surface. Catch a breath. Welcome to zero Gravity.
Alfonso Cuarón’s latest cinematic child is the made-for-3D sci-fi thriller which throws Ryan (Sandra Bullock) and Kowalski (George Clooney) into outer space – literally. NASA astronauts troubleshooting a technical task, they suddenly find themselves attacked by space debris and stranded in the atmospheric abyss. Gravity traces their journey towards self-reclamation, personal acceptance and the return to spacial normality.
Cuarón’s heart-stopping spectacle is visually stunning. His idea perfectly profits from the 3D genre, and is even more striking in IMAX – the globe’s beauty, destructive detritus, crushed bodies, fire, flight, faith – images which drive the audience to a deeper awareness of Cuarón’s themes and the insignificance of the human condition.
Ryan’s refusal to forget the painful passing of her daughter renders her fight for survival desperate, but rather embryonic. From space-sucked empty skulls to abandoned satellite stations, the wasteland of outer space equates her struggle. She is childlike: every bolthole leaves her targeted and gasping for oxygen; between the tension, Cuarón frames Ryan like a frozen foetus, the curve of her face aligning with the surface of Planet Earth.
Put aside the visuals and profound points, and there is an indeterminable absence. The speed at which Cuarón moves the action allows for little time to really develop his characters’ histories. Kowalski (Clooney) provides humour when the emotion reaches intensity: he is a witty sidekick, but Ryan’s interest in him seems somewhat hollow. Perhaps this is Cuarón’s intention. It is the snappy collision of darkness and disappearing time that make the audience gasp as the indefatigable breath of mortality reaches out to them, and Ryan.