127 Hours: 94 Minutes Of Pure, Artful Cinema

19 11 2010

127 Hours chronicles the harrowing and real life story of Aron Ralston. Directed by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle and starring James Franco, the film has received a lot of early Oscar buzz. Here’s the breakdown:

Aron Ralston is a headstrong, cocky and self-involved canyoneer. When he decides to trek alone through the desolate wastelands outside Moab, Utah, little does he know that a day hike will turn into 127 hours with his arm pinned under a rock. What follows is one man’s determination to survive and an introspective look at life and how we live it.

The Monkey: From the opening scene, audiences know they are in for a whole different kind of movie-going experience. 127 Hours isn’t a movie – it’s a film. The difference? Danny Boyle infuses this story with an artfulness not often seen in modern theatre houses. 127 Hours is a painting, an opera, a novel…the blank film screen acts as the canvas and Boyle is the master artist. Am I gushing a bit? Maybe, but this film seriously impressed. Boyle’s use of a three-paneled screen was clever and fit the story and visual style perfectly. But it was more than these blatant directorial choices that made 127  Hours masterful…it was the little things, the themes of water and light that wove seamlessly through the film, the driving score by A.R. Rahman, and, most notably, James Franco’s solid performance.

Franco carried this movie with a respectable amount of heart and empathy. With no one to play off of, his performance is a study in minimalism and subtlety. And the fact that he managed to chronicle Ralston’s change of heart and successfully carry the audience through a dramatic character arc is an impressive feat all its own. His unique sense of humor added a much needed levity to the film as well; without Franco’s crooked grin and well-placed comedy, the audience would have drowned in a claustrophobic mess of depression. His balance of light and dark, humor and drama, made the film watchable.

The film is getting a lot of attention regarding what has been dubbed “The Amputation Scene.” Stories of people fainting and vomiting have surfaced over the past weeks, adding some salacious buzz to the already buzz-worthy film. The scene IS one of the most intense scenes I’ve seen on film – not because of the gore or violence (which is nothing to sniff at) but because, in the back of your mind, you know this actually happened. The scene is extremely hard to watch, but not at all gratuitous. It’s not only symbolic of Aron’s transformation, it represents the universal moment of truth, the encapsulation of the unimaginable power of human self-preservation. “Triumphantly gut-wrenching” pretty much sums it up.

The Weasel: Some people may find the film boring, even likening it to Ryan Reynolds’ Buried: “It’s just a story about a guy trapped for five days…nothing happened!” If you’re looking for an action packed movie, a traditional drama, a comedy, this isn’t the movie to see…but, if you’re interested in seeing a movie that puts artistic expression above sugar-coated entertainment, if you’re interested in seeing a movie that highlights the best and worst characteristics of human nature…127 Hours is your ticket.

Danny Boyle has done it again. I have no doubt 127 Hours will be one of the ten nominated films for this season’s Academy Awards, and, so far, it would surprise me greatly if Boyle didn’t take home his second directing Oscar.

5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was 127 Hours boring? Did you think James Franco carried the film well? Do you think Boyle can repeat an Oscar win? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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4 responses

19 11 2010
Tina

Looks amazing in the previews. I’m excited to see it.

19 11 2010
Dustin

Let me know what you think if you end up seeing it! 🙂

19 11 2010
Katie

Dustin….I really want to see this!! But will I be one of the people who throws up or something? I feel like that’s possible…you know me, what do you think?

19 11 2010
Dustin

It’s pretty intense…but you can employ the “squint-my-eyes-until-everything-is-all-blurry” technique…works wonders 😉 And it’s only about 2 minutes of the film (in reality, it took him FIVE HOURS! AHHH!) so it’s pretty bearable, even if you have to close your eyes, lol

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