It's a simple tale. Enter Ryan; jaded, imperfect isolate engrossed in repairing some element of the many modules that seem to litter near space courtesy of various imperialistic regimes currently squatting on our collective faces. A missile knocks out a nearby satellite, broadcasting debris and precipitating a series of hypoxic adventures which may or may not culminate in said femme salvaging her life and emotional identity. I said may or may not... you don't know yet. (Lol. Yes you do.)
The first fifteen minutes certainly fulfilled my worst expectations with sludgy dialogue, clichéd vistas and the dominance of Clooney’s lounge-lizard delivery, but then his shit-eating impassivity always makes me want to chase him with a broom. What we ultimately have here in spite of whatever critical hand-jobbing you might have encountered is an astronaut procedural. Without alien intervention, you're always running the risk that in space, no one will care, and for all its freneticism Gravity certainly flirts with disengagement, allowing my partner and I protracted bouts of disinterest, endless grunting and groping notwithstanding. That might be an artefact of personal inclination but hmm, I don't know... could it just be that long portions of its much-vaunted kinetic sequences are simply boring? Oversold? I'm going with yes.
Would different leads have kicked this fancy cornfest in a more interesting direction? Debatable. Bullock's increasingly static features are ill-equipped to convey the kind of blood-sweating extremis and pathos her character should have surely evinced. She and Clooney are both thickly over-feted in my opinion, enjoying reputations seemingly unrelated to the plodding adequacy/comprehensive dullness of their work, and they weren't going to be shaken out of that snuggy mediocrity by anything in this script. Its romanticism might have been a saving grace if the themes of physical and spiritual consciousness had been handled with more originality or sophistication (exhibit A- the sun on the Ganges/entire ground control dialogue; the prosecution rests). Optimism and fatalism are guddled with the same glib fingers. That, and I’ll always want to shank a scenario plucked from that central pole in the patriarchal marquee- feminine incompetence. It can be argued that the whole flick is predicated on this expectation; testicles still equal fortitude and utility in the popular imagination and their possession by the protagonist would certainly have robbed us of much of our anxiety about his fate. She apologises to her male colleague for a catastrophe caused by errant space-junk. Let’s just hope she can cook.
Technically and especially visually, Gravity passes muster with a painterly style, quality rendering and high-end cinematography. While I take my hat off to the artisanal handling of static infinity and, to a lesser extent, collision, I still felt a... a flabby remove in the midst of all that busy complexity when I should have been ducking and covering. It was the same with Bullock’s uncontrolled flight, supposedly so harrowing; is it wrong to complain that I wasn't chundering into my popcorn? It felt yaw and impact-deficient.
Personally I would have brought the curtain down five minutes short of the finale, underscoring the emotional trajectory before pandering to the physical. Pfff. Gravity seems to have thrilled and satisfied a good chunk of its intended audience. I’m just not sure we're in that demographic.