Defying Cinema’s Gravity

By: Joel Marino

Alfonso Cuarón has made some deal with the devil. At least, that’s the best theory we can come up with to explain the Mexican director’s spotless record.

From 2001’s sexy-road-trip flick Y Tu Mamá También to the 2006 dystopian adventure Children of Men, Cuarón has helmed some of the most acclaimed mainstream hits in recent memory, on both sides of the border. And now he’s adding a new flawless addition to his roster: the sci-fi epic Gravity, in theaters now. 

Unlike Cuarón’s past features—many of them literary adaptations with complex narratives—Gravity is an exercise in minimalist storytelling. A shuttle accident strands two astronauts (Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) in space. They try to survive. Obstacles get in the way. The end.

But a skimpy plot doesn’t hurt here. In fact, the “less talk, more action” approach helps showcase the movie’s true protagonist: the spectacular special effects. Cuarón pushed the movie’s release date an entire year so he’d have time to perfect the CGI, and the effort shows. Scenes of Clooney clowning around in a jetpack or of Bullock drifting through zero-G are seamlessly executed—the cartoonish glare haunting most computer effects is never seen.

Of course, this is expected from a director as fastidious as Cuarón. His perfectionism is a reason so much time elapses between projects (his last film came out seven years ago). Our only hope is that we won’t have to wait that long to see whatever else he’s got up his sleeve.

Joel Marino is a NYC-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys traveling and saying “I told you so” as much as possible. When not writing, he spends his time on a never-ending quest to find the perfect empanada.