Saturday, 26 February 2011

127 hours (2010) - This premise should not be able to be so engaging, well executed and easy to watch, but it is

Viewing context:
Cineworld on a weekday evening. Wasn’t going to bother (despite my Danny Boyle love) until I watched a few bits at work and felt it really deserved a look-in.

Directed by Danny Boyle; as diverse as ever, going from Slumdog to this is quite a leap. Screenplay also by Boyle, which is new for him, but supported by Yorkshireman Simon Beaufoy who has history with Boyle from Slumdog.

What Happened:
Cocky fella goes off to refine his climbing skills, completely alone without informing anyone where he’s off to. Miles away from the vaguest form of civilisation, he dislodges a boulder as he falls down a fissure, only to find his arm crushed and trapped by the rock. With only a backpack full of supplies, tools and materials, how long until he has to do the inevitable - or die.

What it did particularly well:
Very personal. Thought it would be an issue that it lacked buried's contemporary socio-political commentary, but it really didn't. 1. Because the character was so much more engaging than Reynold's in Buried and 2. because it did have plenty of cultural commentary, but less focused on one aspect like post invasion Iraq and more generally on western individualism.
The sound was great; it built up everything that the visuals couldn't or that the visuals would have let down.

What unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
If I have any gripes, I would have liked it to be more obvious that he had to break his arm. I got that he knew that the knife couldn't go through the bone so had to break it out of the way to cut around it.
I also thought that it suffered from the fact that i knew he got out and was ok. I thought that the film would have done enough in just showing me that journey and to an extent it did, but it just lacked a little suspense and therefore did drag on a little about two thirds in.
The really trippy bits I bought, but the gameshow just seemed like a pretty convenient way for getting some exposition in and to give him a reason to talk about how he was feeling. Same goes for talking into the camera.

It was a critique of the solo, individualistic lifestyle that erodes the soul. This man is one of the most individualistic, hedonistic, 21st century, western archetypes, though without being crude, horrible or too unlikeable. He can therefore quite easily represent that prevalent individualism throughout society without being an over-the-top greedy banker type that shits on everyone below them. This way he can represent all that is wrong with individualism, whilst still being real and so the viewer can find it easier to identify with him; to project themselves onto him. It is his individualism and his complete disregard for anybody else in the world that has him stuck there, slowly dying - alone. By beginning and ending with the scenes of busy crowded places, there was a real contrast created against his self-imposed isolation. The thing that just tops this off is the fact that he literally has to shout for help; he has to break down and fully admits that he needs other people; he needs to be part of society.

Performance of the film:
Not only because he was pretty much the only person in the film (don’t think that you could give it to the inflatable Scooby Doo), but Franco really does put in a mature performance to hold up the whole film. I would much rather a performance such as this garner the Academy’s attention rather than the inevitable Colin Firth win.

Scene of the film:
The end, as he has to actually shout and concede that he needs help. This was the moment that convinced me he had learned what he needed to. Had it not been for this scene, or that if it wasn't executed the way that it was, I think it may have lost a little of its point.

Final Word:
This premise should not have been able to be so engaging, well executed and easy to watch. It took great scripting, directing and acting to even make it possible.

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