On Gravity, screenplays, and burritos
I’ll be posting a full review of Gravity later, but first, some thoughts on a rather common line of discussion I’ve seen with this film.
I dislike when people compartmentalize the elements of a movie like Gravity, saying things like “The acting was really good and the visuals were spectacular, but the story was only decent”. This kind of thinking breaks art down into components that neutralizes its purpose, which is to impact you with its whole. It’s reductionism pretending to be critical thinking. This can be especially true when it’s applied to movies whose visuals are an essential element of the storytelling. The screenplay acts as a delivery system for a movie that exists to be an unrelenting visual experience.
Imagine your favorite burrito. You can taste the individual elements as you eat it, and you might like some ingredients than others. But at the end of the day, you don’t judge burrito by each of its ingredients; you judge it by how those ingredients blend together into satisfying burrito-eating experience.
So it is with movies: sometimes a movie can have a genuinely crappy story and bad acting that good visuals cannot save, just like great guacamole can’t save a burrito when you find a shoelace where the beans should be. But other times, the beans aren’t meant to be exemplary: they’re meant to do their part, providing just enough substance to allow the guacamole to steal the show, and elevate the entire burrito into something transcendent and spectacular.
What I’m saying is, Gravity is a delicious burrito with really good guacamole.