LONELINESS and isolation are feelings which make life a struggle, but the situations we feel as humans on Earth are all relative when compared to the vast unknown that is the greater universe.
For a limited number of our planet's inhabitants, that isolation is felt on a level the rest of us can only begin to imagine.
Alfonso Cuaron toys with loneliness and isolation as he places a medical engineer in space who finds escape in zero gravity from the problems that wait for her on soil.
Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a woman extremely out of her comfort zone, which we are reminded of gives way to heightened emotions when there's no foreseeable end.
She is on a mission that sees her research come to fruition through the installation of new technology on a spaceship. Joined by astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) while making repairs, they come under duress when debris from destroyed satellites is coming their way. And then the real fun starts.
Cuaron creates an ever-expansive view of space with a breathtaking 17-minute opening shot.
Establishing the characters in as intimate a way possible within this realm, the focus is drawn to them and how miniscule they are in such grand surroundings. That either of them could be at all calm is a miracle.
Ryan is not though, and Cuaron's close focus on her throughout the ordeal of trying to get to a surviving station to launch back to Earth is a masterstroke.
Her worst fears are brought to the fore in what becomes her moment of truth.
The film provides a number of reminders about where humans sit in the grand scheme of existence, though it rids itself of any overwhelmingly moralistic moments by introducing constant obstacles in Ryan's ordeal.
Her attempt to reach the final destination is as hard in space as it seems for us for anything on the ground.
While minimalist on dialogue, the same refuses to be said for the rest.
This film, quite simply, is big. Constant sweeping shots and a highly affective score make the film faultless.
The 91 minutes are drawn out to feel like a lifetime to suspenseful effect, tense and convincing. Bullock and Clooney together share poignant scenes jokingly discussing life stories, while alone Bullock is the star. She plays Ryan as a woman scared to face her problems, and afraid of the consequences of letting go.
The picture is startlingly crisp, no doubt aided by 3D technology.
The use of 3D works to Cuaron's favour, not allowing the audience to become complacent with the story but still creating a mesmerising image.
He intertwines moments of terror with sadness repeatedly and to the film's benefit, toying with his viewers' emotions as well as that of Ryan.
Cuaron's creative control as director/producer/writer is genius.
In space no one can hear you at all, and that's the scary truth. Leaving you in absolute awe, this is unmissable for fans of sci-fi and cinema alike.
Now screening at Reading Cinemas