127 Hours (2010)
starring James Franco
directed by Danny Boyle
and written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy based on a book by Aron Ralston
I have to say, this year’s Oscar picks have for the most part been films more than capable of holding their own, and this film is not an exception. In another year, maybe Danny Boyle’s visual epic might have picked up a few wins out of its 6 nominations, but competition was staunch. My point is that while it may not have been the hit of the Oscars, it’s a notably strong film worth recognition. The film is about the real life struggle of Aron Ralston, an amateur climber and canyon explorer who finds himself caught with his arm stuck underneath an extremely heavy rock, with no signs of help anywhere to be found. The story that follows is an epic of mental distortion, blending illusion with reality frequently in a style similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There are some peculiar moments throughout the film that compel the audience to stretch even further their sense of empathy. James Franco delivers an effective performance, crucial to the film’s darkest most stomach-churning and heart-wrenching moments. His depiction of a progressively delirious and contemplative Aron is an emotional power-punch at times. I was particularly fond of the scene where Franco interviews himself in front of his camera with a disturbing laugh track looming over the wholly dismal situation. On that note, it’s key to point out that this film places all its creative energy into the aesthetics of sound/image interaction, which works for the most part. For example, a screaming Franco’s voice is dubbed over with complete silence, making the scene more blood-curdling than his shouts could have been. The tri-cut used across the screen is interestingly applied but I enjoyed its utilization in Franco’s narrative moments. Conclusively, the films plays out like a surreal montage of reflection and introspective dissection, more reliant on stylistic edits to keep an audience interested than potent performances or a compelling script.
Final Score: 3.9 out of 5
Next: The King’s Speech, Winter’s Bone, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs