Saturday 9 November 2013

Review: Gravity

World of Blackout Film Review

Gravity Poster

Gravity (3D) (Vague spoilers - maybe)
Cert: 12A / 91 mins / Dir. Alfonso Caurón

It feels like it's been months that I've been seeing this trailered*1, yet no matter which version it was, I wasn't able to imagine how Alfonso Caurón was going to make a ninety minute film out of a singular incident. As it turns out, there's more going on than that; certainly in terms of the events on-screen, but also in terms of what the characters go through (in other words: astronauts plummeting to earth is what happens in the film, but it's not what the film is about).

In addition to a fairly linear plot, Gravity keeps piling on the metaphor: some of it gleefully in-your-face, some of it gleefully vague. For much of the film, even the scenes with immense tension, there's a sort of dreamlike feeling which is excellently realised, but kept me detached from the action, and to a lesser degree, from the characters themselves. As the film goes on, it asks lingering questions over the nature of memory, faith and reality, and it's an admirable step for Caurón's team not to answer any of them completely. A larger problem, for me, was that I thought some of the questions themselves were too vague, and having one or two more characters on (or even off) screen could have defined them more clearly.

Visually, Gravity is absolutely stunning. The 3D is used wisely and well applied, but it pales into insignificance compared to the zero-gravity effects work. My brain didn't doubt, for one second, that every floating, gliding and smashing object in this film was actually in space, to the point where I don't want to spoil the illusion by watching any making-of docs. The sound design works hand-in-hand with the visuals, making it the most believable space environment I can remember seeing on-screen.

As much as I enjoyed Gravity, I found the thoughtful, introspective film was often being drowned out by the movie about exploding space-stations. The two facets of the story didn't sit together as satisfyingly as I'd have liked, but they're definitely both required to prop each other up. I suspect I'll get more out of a second-viewing where I can concentrate on the quieter moments.

If you can cope with the claustrophobia of only having two actors*2 on screen, it's a fascinating ride. As long as you're not expecting Armageddon you shouldn't go too far wrong.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Sort of. And not really. Both?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Most of the time.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Almost certainly.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
There is something magnificent about seeing this on a big screen.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
I will.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't, but there are three instances of "I have a bad feeling about this". Personally I think that's too many, but you have to admire the commitment.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Can't ask the question I really want to ask without spoiling the film, I'm afraid. Once you've seen the film, hit me up on Facebook, and we'll talk.

*1 Although that's largely because it has been months. Way longer than most publicity campaigns.
*2 The few others don't really count. Come on, they don't really.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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