In a recently posted Rotten Tomatoes q & a interview, Nebraska‘s Alexander Payne discusses Gravity in a way that I found…well, amusing. RT’s Luke Goodsell tells Payne that “one of the things that’s constant in your career is that you seem attracted to stories about characters in transition, if not outright life crisis. Is there a particular appeal to that kind of scenario?” And Payne says, “Am I really alone in that? Aren’t all great stories about characters in transition? Isn’t it always about character revealed through times of major or minor life crisis?”
Goodsell: “A lot of great movies, yes, but not all of them. You’re right in that you’re not alone in that, it just seems like a very defining trait across your films.
Payne: “I don’t know what to say about it. I’ll think about it. [Laughs] I appreciate the observation but yeah, I don’t know. What’s a movie that doesn’t have that? Even…you know, I just saw Gravity — I’m just pulling this out of a hat because I saw it the other day — and it’s Sandra Bullock in the haunted house, right, but in space?
Payne: “But even her they imbued with — whether you thought it was corny or not — that she had lost a daughter, and this was a way of literally and figuratively getting her feet back on the ground. Even that they had to put that sort of backstory in to add to that. I don’t know.”
When I interviewed Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron in Telluride, I told him that I was getting sick of backstories and that I thought the new way to go these days is “no backstory” (like J.C. Chandor does with Robert Redford in All Is Lost), and Cuaron said, “Thank you, man.”