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John Beifuss Really Tries to Make His Capsule Review “Gravity” Work

In response to John Beifuss’s 193‑word review of Gravity on Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

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John Beifuss’s “Gravity (PG-13, 91 min.)” faces just about as many challenges as Sandra Bullock’s character in Gravity. First off, it’s buried in an endless page of undifferentiated capsule reviews that go on endlessly. Lost, as it were, in a void nearly as hostile as outer space, finding Gravity (PG-13 is a task in and of itself.

Secondly, Beifuss is clearly working under suffocating spatial limitations. He clearly has a lot to convey, but is only afforded 193 words in which to do so. The odds are certainly stacked against Gravity (PG-13.  A happy ending doesn’t seem to have ever been in the cards.

It wouldn’t be such a problem if Beifuss had chosen to simply praise the film indiscriminately like many of his peers. 193 words is plenty of time to pour on some serious adoration, and when a review hits only one note, it can feel longer than it really is.

Beifuss refuses to take this route, to his credit, but it makes his job infinitely more difficult, and he isn’t able to pull it off here. As he frantically tries to establish that his negative critiques are more caveats than they are condemnations, he feels like a man losing control at break neck speed.  

As he frantically tries to flesh out an extremely unexpected Jack London comparison, the audience gets only a glimpse into what might have made a very interesting thesis. The work cuts off quickly, leaving more questions than answers. The capsule reviews continue on mercilessly, leaving those with an existential bent to ponder the meaning of it all. To even those with less philosophical tendencies, the work is clearly a missed opportunity.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation