MaryAnn Johanson’s “Nowhere to Go but Down” Is Long and Often Good
By Rochus Pomponius, Adjunct Critic
MaryAnn Johanson’s “Gravity review: nowhere to go but down (London Film Festival)” is long. And it feels long. Sure it’s thorough, sure it’s often engaging, sure there are some clear insights not to be found many other places, but it is long. You better come prepared.
Nowhere to go but down has a lot of sections. It’s anything but rushed. Thankfully, Johanson doesn’t spend a lot of time discussing the movie’s plot. Her plot descriptions are organically worked into her discussion instead of used to build their own distinct section. It’s a rare skill that many a fellow critic would do well to study and emulate.
Some of the sections work better than others. Johanson’s big takeaway from the film, a lesson she delivers in a monologue on unity, is poignant and inightful. If the work were half its length, this alone would justify its existence.
As it stands, there is plenty more in the work that works well, an exploration of Sandra Bullock’s achievements and the surprises and pleasures of a second viewing both come to mind.
There are some overlong sections as well. An introduction on what is and what isn’t science fiction quickly devolves into a one-note diatribe that unfortunately bleeds into the rest of the review.
Unabashedly personal and at times self-indulgent, nowhere to go but down is sure to please Johanson’s core fans. For those who enjoy meaty, thoughtful, and thorough film writing, this one just might fit the bill. It’s not perfect, but there is still a lot of good in it.