One of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had in the cinema in recent memory, Gravity made me realise how few and far between the best moments in other event films of late have really been. That’s not because Gravity boasts freaking awesome special effects, that it gets more out of its 3D and IMAX presentation than other pics or subjects the audience to repeated, sustained vertiginous sequences – though it does all these things in spades, any of which in isolation are the equal of highlights seen elsewhere.
What makes Gravity such compelling, engrossing and nerve-wracking viewing is how immersive and believable every minute of its running time is. That this is accomplished with the simplest of stories – survival in space – shows that in the hands of director Alfonso Cuarón no amount of world-building can compete with the vastness and deadliness of space as he portrays it. Much has been made of his enthusiasm for long sustained shots, and they’re employed here to spectacularly sink you right into the awe-inspiring, fear-instilling setting – eyeballs lapping up its scale, gut churning and mind boggling at the physics of zero-gravity and the effects of inertia and velocity.
To Sandra Bullock, stranded in orbit, the emptiness, absence and nothingness around her aren’t just an environment, but what she could experience at any moment – the end of her existence. Her performance brings to life the sheer terror this entails, a role that sees her do so much that’s integral to making the film tick despite minimal interaction and a perfectly slender amount of character development. Gravity could have been a great thrill-ride, but thanks to Cuarón and Bullock it’s a hell of a lot more, with a human element to match its many breath-taking and white-knuckle moments.