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David Edelstein Takes on the Supernatural in “Gravity” Review

In response to David Edelstein’s 917‑word review of Gravity on Vulture

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David Edelstein’s “Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity Will Delight Physicists, Terrify Everybody Else” has a chip on its shoulder; namely, that everyone else isn’t David Edelstein. It’s a cloying work that undermines the seriousness of the form to reveal far more about the author than the art.

Delight and Terrify is an eminently readable and not exactly unenjoyable piece that manages to do a few things very, very well. It’s brisk entertainment in spite of its readtime, but it manages to be lightly cerebral in spite. The author is a master of language and his control on a sentence-by-sentence basis indicates clearly that his audience will experience precisely what he desires.

However, Delight and Terrify is about the creator, not the craft; as such, it is severely revealing (and not in a good way.) What’s worse is that it ends up feeling coercive. Very unpleasant stuff, indeed.

To separate the creator from the review is the fool’s errand: this piece is all about Edelstein, his distaste for a type of spirituality, his self-described “puny brain,” the irreverence he clearly delights in. Things make Edelstein wince, and he expects the audience to wince along without showing them why.

When Delight and Terrify offers a movie review, it works in a sort of subversive way. When it offers a character sketch of the author, it misses the point of the form entirely.

Readers should get to know Edelstein at a luncheon someday. For a film review, they must look elsewhere.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation