Gravedad

A sci-fi fable in the vein of Italo Calvini's Cosmicomics, Matisse Gonzalez' film is a brief, breezy story built around an immediately intuitive metaphor

A purple character in a dress rockets through the stars, orange flames shooting from their hands and legs.

Matisse Gonzalez' Gravedad (Gravity) is a sci-fi fable in the vein of Italo Calvini's Cosmicomics, a brief, breezy story built around an immediately intuitive metaphor. On the planet where the narrator lives, the gravity changes by day. Sometimes it's so heavy that the world's people can barely lift their heads. Other times, it's so light you could drift into the clouds without even trying. On heavy days, even the sun can hardly reaches over the horizon. On light ones, it's all you can do to keep from drifting away. Those alternating modes are just a fact of life, as inevitable as day and night.

While everyone on this world is affected by these gravitational swings, the narrator is hit harder than most. On the heavy days, she sinks into a deep hole, cut off from those around her. On the light ones, she rockets to the stars, in awe of the beauty of existence. The others have found ways to level out their existence, never too high or too low, and they encourage the narrator to do the same. Work, family, and art are offered up as paths to stability, with the narrator trying each in turn.

Gonzalez' simplified illustrations are well suited to this kind of storytelling. The character designs are goofy, their pointed heads, long necks and disproportionate bodies just alien enough to sell this strange world. Gravedad's world isn't one that needs detail—fables are always best rendered in broad strokes, their simplicity being half the appeal anyway. As stripped down as the world is, there's still plenty of room for creativity and playfulness, from the cubic cows to the appearance of an unexpected baby. Most importantly, the film's world still feels alive, even with its minimal colours and spacious compositions.

As with any fable, the film ends with lessons learned all around, and with a subject as complicated as mental health and depression, there's a danger of being too glib or overly reductive. Gravedad skirts the edge of that, but it's so sweet you can easily forgive it. Ultimately it decides against labeling the gravitational swings as a problem to be solved, landing instead on community and acceptance as pathways to contentment. It acknowledges that no path completely avoids the weight of heavy days, and that different people find different ways to manage—and have different definitions of what "managing" even is. After all, contentment isn't an objective reality, it's a state of mind, and it looks slightly different for everyone.

Gravedad

dir: Matisse Gonzalez
syn: Some days are light and some days are heavy.
On her search for something to grab on to, Rosa learns that gravity is stronger than everybody else.

2019