When announcements started coming down about the films coming to TIFF 2013, one title shot up to the top of my own personal leaderboard. It was the one title I knew I wanted to see at the festival more than any other, despite the fact that it would be premiering in commercial theatres just a few weeks later. It’s a film I’ve been waiting more than a year for, and I’m happy to report that it was worth every second of the wait.
The film is Alfonso Cuaron’s GRAVITY.
Since the moment the film debuted at The Venice International Film Festival, the hype surrounding it has been at a fever pitch. You can lump me in with the horde, because for the second time this week, I discovered that the hype is to be believed.
GRAVITY begins with a team of astronauts that include Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) working on The Hubble Telescope. In the middle of their spacewalking mission, mission control tells them that a destroyed satellite has created a storm of debris in outer space, and that the debris is headed their way. Unable to get to safety before the storm hits, Stone becomes untethered from the telescope, and begins to drift aimlessly into deep space. Alone.
The film comes with glorious staging, top notch direction, all of which comes together to create an unexpected amount of tension. It believes in the long take – so long in several instances that it makes Cuaron’s work in CHILDREN OF MEN look attention-deficit. Cuaron has clearly studied great sci-fi – both modern and classic – in his preparation for this film, and learned what makes the best films so transcendent. GRAVITY isn’t trying to be a groundbreaker, or a touchstone; it’s trying to add to the canon, and in doing so it succeeds splendidly.
The movie is fully Sandra Bullock’s show. She has been tasked with hoisting the film on to her shoulders in a way not many actresses are, and to that end she never falters. Watching her amazing blend of meticulousness, determination, fear, and panic is what allows the film to succeed. Had she stumbled, so too would the film as a whole.
With so many people calling the film everything short of the second coming, it will be difficult to gauge what the film is in for. GRAVITY debuts in theatres in just three weeks, and when it does, I will be anxious to see the conversation that forms around it. More than once, I’ve been in a film and heard its trailer get met with giggles, and now that it’s being hailed as The Next Big Thing, those giggles may turn to something even more cynical.
Here’s hoping they don’t