New Criticals

In fact, according to an interview given by director Cuaron, simply keeping a female protagonist in the final script was a huge win, and a big step, according to Bullock, in the film industry’s advancement of women actors. It's certainly important that women get leading roles (and kudos to Bullock's undoubtedly strenuous portrayal of the part she was given), but that does not excuse overlooking the larger implications that the content of such scripted roles for leading women carry both now and in the future.

Co-protagonist George Clooney’s equally one-dimensional character, Matt Kowalsky’s discussion of women in the film doesn’t help: he barks orders at Ryan (and sweetly forgives her when she apologizes for not following his instructions fast enough), while sharing stories about the consumerist desires of unfaithful women who have left him in the past. When Kowalsky spends time and oxygen collecting the corpse of their colleague (spoiler alert #1), he is portrayed as thoughtful and heroically sentimental; when Ryan wants to try to save the still-living Kowalsky, she is reprimanded for not being able to let go. Kowalsky never falters in his level-headedness. The only gesture made towards the male lead’s own vulnerability is the confession that he, too, was nauseous during his first space mission, a comment made in order to comfort Stone.