127 Hours (2010) Short Review
Danny Boyle continues to make one great film after another. The fact that his films are so diverse when it comes to content is all the more amazing. He is a tremendously effective storyteller and this is amongst his best films.
It wasn’t nearly as gruesome as I had heard. It IS difficult to make a film where the key moment of the story is one of mutilation even if it is for survival… I dont think I’ve SPOILED anything there, have I? The actual story took place only a few years ago, so I think many know the story already.
This is the true story of Aron Ralston (played by James Franco), an extreme sports enthusiast. His self reliance is such to the extreme that it manifests itself in the story as a character flaw in some ways. The film begins as a typical weekend excursion for Ralston. He mountain bikes. He hikes. He meets s couple of young girls hiking and takes them first rock climbing and then swimming in an underground grotto.
Things quickly turn desperate after he parts ways with the girls and has an unlikely accident involving a boulder balancing in a precarious position. He finds himself alone, fighting for survival. He is put in the rare position of having to do something unthinkable to survive or perish.
Boyle manages to sidestep the actual 127 hours of being pinned in one place by inserting the thoughts, regrets and hopes of outdoorsman Ralston. He gives you enough of the idea of the tedium and desperation of the situation while giving the audience a bit of relief. Ralstons solution to the situation is gruesome, but is was sanitized so as to not turn the film into a geek show. I’ve been made to grimace far more with MANY other films.
The most difficult moment in the film, for me, was Ralston’s reaction to what he drinks after he runs out of water. Franco does a marvelous job in this. There are long stretches with minimal dialogue, though. Boyle let the visuals tell the story whenever possible. Many of Ralston’s decisions that he’s wrestling with are spelled out in simple gestures. Ralston was the kind of individual that could get through this. There is much self reflection by the character, but you get the idea right from the start that he knows what he may have to do to escape his predicament. Franco does a good job with the dark humor and a thinking man who does have a lapse or two when trying to keep things together.
There are obvious metaphorical overtones here that are universal. The story is about things that most people can relate to in some way. Regret… Redemption… Self reflection… An EXTREME example of the power of the human spirit… Boyle uses this to pose the question “How far would you go to see the ones you love again?” His answer is that we all would do what Ralston would…. I don’t know about that. If nothing else it is a celebration of the determination of Aron Ralston to survive his moment of reckoning.
This is a top rate film with Boyle’s usual artfully cinematic eye for visuals and his ear for a great soundtrack. It’s worth seeing even if you’re a little squeamish. It made my Best of 2010 list…