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Is '127 Hours' this year's 'Diving Bell and the Butterfly'?

November 15, 2010 |  9:14 am

Diving bell 

Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" is a dynamic tour de force with a vibrant cinematography that you would not expect from a film about a man stuck in a canyon. The same can be said of Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," the 2007 true-life pic about Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered a massive stroke and, afterward, could only blink his left eyelid.

Bauby's fate may make the predicament of Aaron Ralston (played by James Franco) appear almost liberating. Yet both pictures faced a similar challenge in that difficult subject matter had the potential to keep moviegoers away. In the end, "Diving Bell" was nominated for four Academy Awards, yet the French-language film grossed only $6 million domestically and close to $20 million worldwide.

Fox Searchlight is, of course, hoping for a much more successful box-office run, and with Franco providing a captivating leading performance, that's likely. The movie opened in limited release last weekend at four theaters for a take of $260,000. The studio is expanding the film slowly over the next few months, and, of course, an Oscar bump from the academy would only  help matters. It's just fascinating to watch these two incredibly visual directors tackle subject matter that most perceive as completely lacking in both color and life.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Julian Schnabel, right, directs Mathieu Amalric in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Credit: Miramax Films / Associated Press

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