The only comparable space footage I've seen has come in
Cuaron directed, wrote the script with son Jonas, edited the film with
In this case, that decision falls mainly to
Cinematographer Emanuel Lubezki captures the beauty and loneliness of space like no one before: These voyagers spinning unprotected through the sky see the orange band of a sunrise on Earth, then a daunting infinity of distant stars. Naturally, the 3-D effect jolts us when space clutter hurtles toward our faces. Yet Lubezki also uses it for humor -- a Marvin the Martian doll floats peacefully back to the cosmos from whence he came -- and emotion, as Stone's tears flow halfway down her cheek and drift toward us through a spaceship's cabin.
She has almost literally become a stone since the death of her 4-year-old daughter, and Kowalski's cheerfulness doesn't dent her indifference. That facade begins to crack when she hears a voice on the radio singing in a foreign language to a child and a dog.
She howls along with the dog, first in a bleakly comic way and then primally, like someone reduced to her lowest point. Then something happens to make her question her lassitude. Does this impulse come from God? Her subconscious? Both religious believers and nonbelievers may be touched by her quandary and her response.
Bullock, always a solid performer, surpasses all her previous work: Her commitment to the part and exploration of its facets couldn't be surpassed by any of the great actresses. Clooney has less to do and relies on the genial, slightly cocky attitude he projects so well.
And even those effects have a quality that goes beyond dazzlement. At one point, Stone watches fiery debris hurtle through the sky; the pieces could kill her, yet their incendiary glory can't be denied. Outer space, like so much of life, can be beautiful and terrible at the same time.
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