At times, I felt nauseous. Other times, claustrophobic. Most of the time, I felt downright uncomfortable, like I was struggling to get back to Mother Earth just like George and Sandra. Like I was on a roller coaster where part of me wanted to stay on and the other part wanted to jump ship.
To be honest, I’m not even sure I enjoyed this movie. Enjoyed is not the right word. But I do know that it was all worth it.
In every sense of the word, Gravity was a unique moviegoing experience, experience being a term that gets thrown around a lot undeservedly but undoubtedly belongs here. It sounds corny but I didn’t just watch Gravity; I experienced it. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my day but I had never seen a movie like this. And even if the acting or dialogue was sub-par (Important note: It wasn’t), I would still give it a good review based purely on the ground that it broke.
Alfonso Cuarón seems to have figured out how to feed the hype machine. Basically, it comes down to quality over quantity. When you’re pumping out two movies a year (See Allen, Woody), you don’t leave much time for anticipation to build. But for whatever reason, Cuarón’s movies are few and far between. Y Tu Mamá También was 2001, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was 2004 and Children of Men was 2006. Gravity came out a few weeks ago, meaning seven years came and went without a Cuarón joint.
All of the hype was deserved. The first part of the movie was rather calm but left no doubt that trouble was around the corner. It was the calm before the space storm. And in a place as vast and wide and empty as outer space, trouble becomes that much harder to deal with. Hopelessness becomes the feeling du jour. You can’t call 9-1-1 or your parents when you’re in space. You can’t call an ambulance to your house. Did I mention that gravity doesn’t exist in space? Where in the world (or other worlds) will these people turn to for help? That’s what I was feeling for the refreshingly short one-and-a-half-hour runtime.
I think I know why it all felt so real to me: There were no scenes on Earth. From the very start, we are in space with the characters, and that’s where we stay until the very last moments. There were no flashbacks to Clooney at Mardi Gras or Bullock driving in her car. Space is the only reality Cuarón gives us and that’s what made the whole experience so claustrophobic.
General rule: When a movie makes you wonder how in the world they made this movie, that’s a good thing. It means that it’s new to you. It means that they’re pushing the envelope of what a movie can be. That’s what I liked about Gravity. It wasn’t playing on past conventions. It was unapologetically unique. This was a statement movie. It said “This is where we set the bar, try to top it.”
I’m sure Cuarón knows he’s achieved something special. And I’m almost positive the Oscars will agree. Gravity is almost guaranteed a nomination for Best Picture and Best Director. If they go all the way in one or both categories, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.