Trying to resist the gravitational pull of this film is futile. From the breath-taking 13-minute uncut opening, we were fully immersed in its world.
And when things go catastrophically wrong, which they do unnervingly fast, we are left gasping for air just like the stranded spacenauts. Living the next 91 minutes in a primitive state of fear for our heroine – her air, fuel and sanity slowly ebbing away as infinite isolation creeps in – we’re constantly reminded of Cuarón’s bold opening caption: “Life in space is impossible.” You suspect you’re in for an epic survival story, but a series of heart-stopping near-misses never allow you to believe she’s ever truly going to make it.
The astonishing story is told in real-time, instilling a pounding sense of urgency, while the spot-on science outs this film as a space thriller rather than sci-fi. Indeed, you don’t realise just how seriously the filmmakers took this 3D blockbuster until you watch the special features on the Blu-ray release.
Shot-by-shot breakdowns hammer home the complexity of this project and revealing interviews make you pause and marvel at the supernova of themes and metaphors that have hi-jacked Alfonso and his son Jonás Cuarón’s script.
Their self-imposed mission was to create a thrill ride of a film, about a journey of cosmic rebirth that’s reinforced by striking visuals of space suits attached to their station like fetuses connected by an umbilical cord, against the backdrop of Mother Earth. And it was for this reason that the central character was always destined to be a woman, even before they christened her Dr Ryan Stone.
Star Sandra Bullock delivers a hefty performance in spite of her zero gravity surroundings; every longing look at Earth and each slow-mo spin plays out like beautifully choreographed ballet. She’s an Ellen Ripley for a new generation, with the power to make you emerge from the film feeling entirely weightless and completely unstoppable.
There are few films that most people agree on, but Gravity has swept us all into its orbit.