Hold on to your seat and get ready to squirm in hope and vicarious pain in the one of the most gripping films of the year, 127 Hours. Based on the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, 127 Hours recounts Aron’s venture into the wild and getting stuck there, literally!
Beginning with jovial, energized quick shots of Aron bike riding on the range the film played out more so like a commercial for some sports gear or perhaps that hard to miss product placement of the bottles of Gatorade. The marketing tone was complimented with beautiful landscape aerial shots of Blue John Canyon and a rockin’ soundtrack that totally sold me on wanting to go rock climbing probably for the first time ever. Then snap, just as I was getting into the groove of this nature excavation of hard knocks, the film took an ominous turn and I was quickly reminded of how glad I was that I hadn’t ever been on such a quarry.
Just as Aron finishes helping two other lost hikers get back on the right path, his thrill seeking catches up with him as his path comes to a possible end when boulder falls down into a canyon, taking Aron with it. It was a painful scene to see but just wait, things just got started.
As we see Aron trapped and his attempts to free himself what unfolds (on the narratives surface) is a battle between man and nature. Yet what makes 127 Hours a standout film was its stunning display of the human tenacity to survive. From the cinema verite of Arons filming himself to the brilliant audio of hearing just about every crack, slip and sip of water going down his throat director Danny Boyle effectively brought the audience as close to being right there with Aron as possible.
As the hours pass it was expected that Aron’s mind would start to fade and perhaps even hallucinate but his flashbacks about his past played out the way all people supposedly do when they are walking the tight rope of life and death and might as well included that white light that many claim to see during near death experiences. I found the scenes predictable and an unnecessary stretch of an already amazing reality.
With boulders and special effects as a supporting cast, 127 Hours for the most part stars James Franco and only James Franco. The difficult challenge to single handedly carry a film like this was met and accomplished by Franco’s magnificent portrayal of the nature loving daredevil Aron Ralston. It is in that scene immediately after Aron realizes that he is stuck between a rock and a hard place when you realize… that Franco is “into” this character! The utter shock of his situation didn’t play out with a predictable panicky going berserk scenario. Instead Franco brings to life the roller coaster of valiant efforts and disappointing downs minute by minute of a man in peril making it one of the most compelling performances of the year and possibly the best performance of Franco’s career.
Undoubtedly what everyone has been and will continue to talk about mostly in 127 Hours is the way in which Aron gets out of this jam. Does help arrive, does he die, does he take the assumed route of cutting himself free or does some divine intervention occur or? Of course you’ll have to watch to find out but let’s just say that your breath will be taken away right along with Aron’s!
127 Hours is one of the few films I’ve walked into with absolutely no preconceived notions about the movies subject matter and if all of films turned out like this one did, I just may have to do that more often. In a matter of 127 hours Aron Ralston exhibits why he’s a testament of a determination and strength and in nearly two hours Danny Boyle shows us what damn good film making is all about!
127 Hours has deservedly been nominated for many awards (including 3 Golden Globes) and can still be seen locally in DFW at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas.