70th Venice Film Festival day one: Gravity and Tracks amaze
The first full day of screenings at the Venice Film Festival offered two pictures that amazed cinephiles in two completely different ways: Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón (out of competition) and Tracks by John Curran (in competition).
Gravity by Alfonso Cuarón
Cuarón surprised everyone with Children of Men back in 2006. Presented in Venice, the movie became a cult classic for film lovers but failed to convince the general public. Now he is back with another breathtaking work starring Hollywood stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, shot completely in 3D and promising to thrill both connoisseurs and those seeking pure entertainment.
Bullock plays Dr Ryan Stone, a medical engineer with a difficult past, on her first shuttle mission, with a team captained by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney). What starts as a routine spacewalk becomes the worst of nightmares. Their shuttle is hit by a storm of debris caused by the intentional destruction of an obsolete satellite by the Russians, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone − tethered to nothing but each other and spiralling out into the blackness.
Gravity is the closest thing to an outer-space experience ever realised on the silver screen. It looks real, with attention to technical details that no one would normally think of: an exploding space station makes no sound at all. And that makes it even scarier.
Visually prodigious, the direction of this masterpiece disseminates non-stop anguish that only the light of the day can put an end to. A must-see.
Tracks by John Curran
Tracks is the tale of a young Australian loner who wants to prove that anyone can do anything. Inspired by her father’s African crossing, she decides to cross over 2,000 miles of desert with only three camels and her faithful dog Diggity.
Robyn (Mia Wasikowska) works hard but struggles to raise the necessary money, however her journey is unexpectedly sponsored by the National Geographic; the magazine accepts on one condition: a photographer has to join her at regular intervals.
Directed by John Curran (Stone, The Painted Veil), Tracks is a personal, profound drama based on a biographical book of the same name by Robyn Davidson. Through its clean but emotional cinematography, and with the support of a heartfelt soundtrack, the film perfectly communicates the precarious balance between the roughness and sensitivity of the lead character, the animals and the landscapes.
Robyn is confused about her life, her relationship with people and with herself. Spoken communication scares her; she empathises with animals and aboriginal people who do not speak English. Her only certainty is this trip, and it’s guiding her to an adventure which is not only a physical journey but also one of self-discovery.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
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