127 HOURS (Dir. Danny Boyle, 2010)
To put it bluntly Danny Boyle makes incredible life affirming movies that are not for the squeamish.
Early reports of people passing out at screenings of this true story adaptation may be exaggerated, but having witnessed many walk outs when working at a theater during the run of Boyle's last movie SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, I can safely say that many folks are going to have a wee bit of trouble stomaching this.
However those who can get past the one particular extreme scene - it can't really be a Spoiler to say what happens since it's been so well documented - the "amputation scene" are in for a gripping and invigorating ride for "127 Hours" is one of the best movies of the year.
Boyle begins with pulsating rhythmic shots of crowds of commuters and hoards of people at sporting events; the masses that make up our world, then focuses on the solitary life of a man who wants to get away from all that.
James Franco plays the part of that man, Aron Ralston, with great gusto. You can feel his thirst for adventure and nature as he attacks the trails of Blue John Canyon in Utah.
Before his accident, Franco befriends and flirts with 2 women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) while hiking and helps them find their way around the area.
The women are unfortunately are long gone and can't hear him yell for help when he falls into a deep crevasse along with a boulder that crashes on top of his arm trapping him there.
Franco does everything he can to dislodge the boulder but to no avail. He has a backpack with a bottle of water, a video camera, a watch, a little bit of food, and a pocket knife with a dull blade.
The major hook the film has is that he told no one where he was going.
For being mostly set in one small space there's a lot to be said for how there's never a dull second here. Boyle fluidly captures the manic mindset of Franco's predicament and never loses it.
It's a career best performance by Franco - a tour de force that even eclipses his wonderful work in "Howl". I'll be shocked if he's not nominated for an Oscar.
At one point Franco does a humorous mock morning TV show interview with himself on his video camera. It's completely believable and gels with how the film makes a statement about our perceived conceptions of the world around us.
In a number of Franco's many flashbacks while trapped we see an ex-girlfriend (Clémence Poésy). He breaks up with her at a basketball game surrounded by hundreds of people. He flashes back to this moment of feeling intense loneliness in a crowd again and again.
Like just about every other element in this film that has a powerful effect. We're never truly alone like we think we are most of the time. It's in those very rare horrifyingly tragic circumstances that we most appreciate other people.
Ralston's story may be difficult to watch for some, but it's a must see movie in absolutely every respect. In so many ways it's as memorable and moving as motion pictures can get.