Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gravity Left Me Floating

This has been a sports blog since its inception, but I guess this is the first time I’ve felt that motivated to state a non-sports opinion (I don’t publicly talk politics). 

I just finished watching Gravity, an amazing film by Alfonso Cuaron.  It focused on visual and situational drama and suspense rather than dialogue and delivered a success.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the film, until the ending. 

We witness an unbelievable experience where Sandra Bullock’s astronaut character (Ryan Stone) is forced to manage multiple life-or-death situations in a suspenseful fight for survival.  After jumping from shuttle to space station to space station, we witness Bullock’s descent to Earth aboard a Chinese capsule.  She survives reentry to Earth’s atmosphere and lands in a body of water conveniently close to land.

My issue is not with the events in space or with the land proximity convenience but with the missed climactic moment of human emotion upon Bullock’s character’s emerging from the water upon the capsule’s crash.  Bullock’s Stone not only survives multiple perils in space but nearly drowns in what initially figured to be a routine capsule exit.

Upon escaping the capsule and, like Kate and Leo in Titanic, fighting the downward drag of a much heavier object, Bullock emerges from the water in time to see the remaining pieces of her most recent mod of space transportation disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere.  What does she do?  She flips over in the water and swims to shore in the film’s final scenes. 

While I have no issue with the way the film’s final minute of Bullock’s character struggling swim to shore and appreciation of being on Earth once again, Cuaron really missed an opportunity to put an award winning stamp on the film. 

At that moment when Bullock emerges from the water, I expected an extreme release of human emotion.  Hell, she floated through space from space junk to space junk and nearly died from being lost in space, running out of oxygen in space, re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, and drowning in water.  She’s finally feeling in control of her body again AND witnessing the remainder of her astro experience burn in the sky, and we get nothing from her?!?! 

I’m sorry, but I thought that after emerging from the water, given a brief dramatic pause, would have broken down emotionally.  I expected to see quite a release of anguish, tension, and fear, but what we get none of that.  I would have spent another 1 or 2 minutes of film time putting the cherry on top of the suspenseful sundae by having Bullock’s character give a human release of said anguish, tension, and fear.  Let her scream and experience a physical release of emotion.  By god, she just went through something that no one in the history of humanity has ever experienced.

I loved the film, as it kept me engaged throughout, but I was really hoping for a much stronger ending.  It was one of those times where I had felt I passed the film by at its end and was pulling it along with me to my conclusion; similar to Bullock’s multiple tension-filled scenes tugging at tethers.  You had me Gravity, but like George Clooney, you left me floating in the end.  

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