Cert: 15 Runtime: 94 mins Director: Danny Boyle Cast: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Burton
I’m in pretty deep doodoo here
So 127 Hours a film that a lot of people didn’t want to see because of one thing (I guess you know what I am talking about) Yet again Boyle was nominated for a few Oscars, but didn’t succeed this time. 127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he can be rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his accident. Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet?Although undeniably amazing, the story of Aron Ralston isn’t something that strikes you as ripe for cinematic treatment. It’s more the sort of yarn suited to a half hour documentary, seeing as the action is stuck in the one place for five days. It’s a marvel then – although not overly surprising – that Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, director and writer respectively of the phenomenal Slumdog Millionaire, have eked out a worthy story that capably fits the feature film format. They’ve developed the premise to focus more on the mentality of Ralston during his suffering. He cycled through a gamut of emotions – regret, despair, acceptance, anger, frustration, embarrassment – and how Boyle presents these is definitely left of centre, but all the more intriguing for it. The use of flashbacks and dream segments are often lazily used to convey a character’s thoughts, although they’re still a damn fine narrative tool if you use them correctly and Boyle wonderfully segues in and out of these sequences as if they were an extension of the present action.
Some of Ralston’s delirium-fuelled moments are cringe-worthy and humiliating, but Boyle doesn’t shoot them with a rose coloured lens. What you see is an authentic depiction of how this man (re)acted to the gradual realisation these were his last days on earth. When you’re on your own with no hope of surviving, why concern yourself with something trivial like how you might look if there was ever a movie made about you? Well, Ralston didn’t and Boyle respected that. Subsequently we, the audience, have been privy to something we weren’t supposed to see, and there is something very fascinating about that. Cillian Murphy was originally planned to play the doomed adventurer, and though I’m sure he would’ve been great, it’s now hard to imagine anyone other than James Franco in the role. The real Ralston had never allowed anyone outside of his own family and friends to see the camcorder footage he shot over those harrowing 127 hours, until he permitted both Franco and Boyle to watch it. This private screening must’ve been invaluable to Franco especially; his portrayal is carefully layered and well thought out. Franco slots into the “everyman” mould with ease and offers a quirky side to Ralston without ever being overtly quirky. Franco thoroughly deserved his Oscar nomination and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him come future awards seasons.An ordinary man placed in an extraordinary situation is compelling viewing thanks to Boyle’s masterful direction and Franco’s powerful performance.