Alfonso Cuarón popped onto my radar with his 1995 film A Little Princess, still a film I treasure. My son, then three-years-old, sat on my lap in the cinema and was as riveted to the visual spectacle as I was.
It’s important to train them from a young age to love the beautifully rendered moving image and attendant (but equal and inextricably linked) carefully crafted narrative. If parents don’t perform due diligence in the matter, it falls to me to try to bring them up to speed as college students in the film studies classes I teach.
And, Cuarón is one of the directors my students are likely to have encountered. Is this because his films typically deliver in terms of the aesthetic and the narrative? Or, is it because he directed one of their childhood favorites? You can guess the answer to that one.
Among his films, I particularly like Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, and – yes – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
But, it may be time to move another title near the front of the line.
Cuarón’s latest film, Gravity, offers a bold vision of what it’s like to live and work and, perhaps, to die in space. Seldom do I recommend seeing a film in 3D instead of flat, but Gravity is an exception because of how the otherworldly feeling of space is enhanced by the spectacle of 3D.
The story is simple: a medical engineer and two astronauts are on a mission in space when something goes terribly wrong. I don’t want to tell you more; just go and enjoy the experience.
While I can’t speak to the scientific accuracy of the film — though I know there have been some quibbles and some larger disagreements about what the filmmakers get wrong — I can speak to the entertainment value of the movie.
It is high. And, I like Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in the main roles.
Science fiction can be a tougher sell for me than some other genres, but this picture drew me in early on, took me for a wild ride, and dropped me down just in time. While watching the movie, I noticed periodically that I was clenching my fists and fighting the impulse to tap my foot.
Engaging characters. Lots of tension. Great pacing. Perfect length. Exhale.
Happy to have seen this film.
Odds are that you will probably feel the same way.