When Alfonso Cuarón released the trailer for Gravity in the spring of 2013, he dropped the proverbial microphone on the modern movie trailer.
Cuarón has been making waves since the start of his career, electrifying the bubble of Mexican television with his now-infamous style of juxtaposing romantic, yet honest hope with cold, grim reality. From Mexico, he came to Hollywood, cutting his teeth on some of the most underrated adaptation films of the past twenty years (see The Prisoner of Azkaban and Great Expectations), and creating masterful original movies, which have played just as well to a primetime movie crowd as they have to the Cannes and Sundance Festivals. With Gravity, he has not only made his greatest film so far, he has made what is arguable one of the most important films of the year.
The Tufts Daily Review the film, calling it “2013’s 2001: A Space Odyssey”. The allusion is well made; in Gravity, Cuarón tackles huge questions of purpose, creation, and existence, in the same vein that Mallick and Kubrick do.
What Cuarón managed with Gravity, however, is tackling these questions as operatically as Kubrick, as poetically as Mallick, but with a visceral immediacy that is strictly and squarely Cuarón’s. In the spirit of Children of Men satisfying every level of consumption, Gravity has a meaningful affectation whether one is diving into semiotic analysis of the film, or one is simply letting the aesthetic wash over oneself in a visual and visceral experience.
What makes this film important, however, is not its outstanding craftsmanship. Gravity makes subtext, big philosophical questions, and meaningful discussion cool, in a way we have not seen since Nolan’s Inception (2010). While films like Iron Man 3 and Pacific Rim are fun and very functional, they lack depth.
And while indie releases like Blue Jasmine and Short Term 12 carry tremendous and eloquent depth, their lack of a certain, marketable viscerality means that very few ever get to see them.
Cuarón hit the sweet spot, the way very few still can. Better yet, Gravity is on track for a $40 million domestic opening weekend. As cold as it is, we do not get films like this if they do not make money. Steven Soderbergh, in his State of Cinema address, clarified that film is “the only arena in history in which trickle-down economics actually works;” simply put, if Gravity does well, then the studios will spend more money to make more movies like it.
That is great news for Alfonso Cuarón, for his crew, for you, and for me. So go see it.