Every generation has a sci-fi film that defines it, a game changer. 2013 sees Gravity hitting cinemas and this doesn't just change the game but win the game, start another one and win that too. Gravity is nothing short of a revelation and THIS is what cinema is all about.
To call Gravity simply a sci-fi film doesn't do it justice at all because it is so much more but I will get to that later. The story is as simple as can be but more effective and handled more skilfully than most films could ever dream of. A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them floating in space.
With a cast list that you can count on less than two hands, and most of whom you never see, this film actually belongs to three stars namely George Clooney as the astronaut, Sandra Bullock as the medical engineer and space itself. That said, it is actually the member of that cast with a total lack of atmosphere that is responsible for creating the perfect atmosphere for this work of genius to play out in. The recreation of space, it's vastness, it's wonder and the danger of its ability to be a calm, quiet killer whilst also reflecting the out-of-reach warm embrace and wonder of Earth is a true marvel of cinema - you see it and you feel it thanks to fantastic psychological play and superb sound design.
He might be one of the two canopy stars however George Clooney is not the best thing about this movie. After turning in amazing performances in films such as The Ides Of March, The Descendants and Up In The Air in recent years, whilst his performance is excellent and never anything less than hugely watchable, it is actually Sandra Bullock who really owns this film.
With The Heat earlier this year she proved all over again that she has the acting chops to own a film and bring in huge audiences. There were scoffs from some when it was announced that she was being cast as a lead in Gravity and many wondered if she had the ability to do drama to the level required. However, rather than just proving the doubters wrong she also manages to somehow even exceed the kind of powerhouse display that Camp Pro-Sandy would expect in this role, giving a performance that will surely net her at least a Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress nod in all the major ceremonies come awards season.
The key is that she never over plays it, even in moments of extreme peril or extreme quiet despair, there isn't a second where you feel she's even touching on being hammy or over dramatic - her performance is perfectly balanced. The managed subtlety she exhibits is an absolute wonder to watch. Something I rarely say is that the 3D in a movie is worth it and that's because most directors don't actually use it either correctly or effectively or both.
Here, flawless director Alfonso Cuarón shows even the likes of format pioneer James 'Eat, Sleep and Breath 3D' Cameron how it is done, giving both small things and big things on screen true scope, scale and depth and a realism that I have never before seen on film. Whereas Avatar has, to date, been the benchmark for doing 3D right, Gravity rewrites the book and takes the format even further - there is not a single moment where you think it's being used unnecessarily or incorrectly. Buying a cinema ticket, there has never been a better reason to pay a few pounds extra for that extra dimension.
Having used the sci-fi label for Gravity earlier in this review I have to say that although this film does take place almost entirely in space, this is not purely a sci-fi movie, and some might even disagree with the use of that genre label in the first place, but this is a drama, a thriller and also a human story of survival. Gravity is so tense, so intense and so utterly absorbing that you will feel like you are going through what the cast are going through, you will be holding your breath, you will feel cold, you will feel isolated and you will feel panic as it is atmospheric beyond all sensory belief.
Relentlessly effective, Gravity is not only a remarkable movie but it is also an unforgettable experience.
Gravity is a classic in every sense of the word and is destined to rightfully earn the label of being one of the greatest films of a generation and will rightly be on Best Film Of All Time lists for years to come.
Gravity is screening at the BFI 57th London Film Festival before going on general release across the UK on 8 November 2013.