Gravity, as the title implies, is one such film.
What writer-director Alfonso Cuaron has managed to accomplish – using a relatively straight forward and simple lost in space metaphor – is nothing short of remarkable.
Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as a pair of space station employees tasked to maintain a U.S. satellite post.
She should have knocked on wood – or titanium.
When a distress call comes in from Houston (“Abort mission” voiced by Ed Harris) that an accident has occurred at a “nearby” Russian satellite, and deadly galactic space debris is soon to follow, the techies have to cut short their assignment and run for cover.
Right about here, the visuals in Gravity go from impressive to downright jaw dropping spectacular. If cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life) doesn’t win the Oscar for his work here, it will surely be because the computer generated imagery will be perceived to be the rabbit in the hat. The meshing of all of this technology is astonishingly seamless.
After some frustrated attempts for both Clooney and Bullock to scramble through the asteroid storm and regain entry to their fast disintegrating space station, the film settles in to an amazing perseverance journey.
As Bullock’s odds begin to diminish, Cuaron peels back more and more of her personal faith crisis.
When all finally appears lost and all of Bullock’s training expertise seems exhausted, the Oscar-winning actress lands in a heartbreaking self-examination monologue.
Heartbreaking. All alone. Her tears stumbling from her eyes and drifting toward the audience in spellbinding 3D.
“No one will pray for me. No one will mourn for me,” she says softly, reflectively. “I would pray for myself but no one ever taught me how.”
Gravity is about faith. About believing that life has a divine value that commands you to persevere.
Gravity is about choosing life.
Now, if you’re suddenly wondering if this film is about proselytizing, it’s not. Cuaron maneuvers his material with a poetic grace that nods towards Buddhism, and ultimately acknowledges evolution.
Sandra Bullock may just win her second statue for her performance in Gravity, a performance that takes head on what Russian acting guru Constantin Stanislavski calls public solitude – acting out isolated private moments in front of an audience.
The real star of Gravity, however, is Cuaron.
His film soars on so many levels it is sure to redefine the 3D cinematic experience.
But all of that is just window dressing for yours truly if the themes are not equally ambitious.