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“I had a daughter.”
I’ve re-written my thoughts on Gravity half a dozen times already. I just deleted 7,500 words about how it’s a marvelous cinematic experience that avoids all the trappings of the traditional survival thriller. Before that, I had several thousand words about how it’s a misunderstood masterpiece. There were some lines about how Cuarón is the modern-day Kubrick.
None of that matters though. I mean, it’s a great film. I hope it wins a bunch of awards tomorrow. But I don’t need to convince anyone that they should watch it. 10 Oscar nominations should be enough to convince almost anyone.
For me, it all comes back to those four words. Because beneath the surface, Cuarón’s deliberate, measured, and expertly crafted narrative is really about loss, re-birth, and the resiliency of the human spirit.
The thing is, the events is our lives that affect us the most can often be summarized in a few words. It reminds me of the six-word short story possibly written by Hemingway:
“For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”
In four words, Cuarón encapsulates all the fear, anxiety, and depression that comes from such a tragic, personal loss. Dr. Stone is both literally and figuratively spinning, out of control, into the darkness. The empty, lifeless void of space is a fitting metaphor for the isolation and loneliness that looms large after such an event. The space suit, a perfect representation of that invisible weight on your chest, making it hard to breathe.
The brief moments of reflection — where stuff stops happening to Dr. Stone and she is forced to do more than just react — give us a glimpse into the evolution of her re-birth, as she goes from aimless drifting to active survival. And it’s these moments that elevate Gravity beyond a standard, albeit masterfully crafted, survival thriller set in space.
Sure, it’s not perfect. Some logical and scientific realities need to be suspended for the sake of the story. It can be a bit heavy-handed at times, as it straddles the line between spoon-feeding the audience and being completely opaque to the average viewer.
Still, Gravity is cinema at its finest and easily my favorite film of 2012.