127 Hours starring James Franco, tells the account of true life independent hiker Aron Ralston’s bout with the elements in an unimaginable situation. Under the direction of Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, The Beach, 28 Days Later), Franco very effectively portrays the dangerous plight and determination of Aron Ralston during his frightening ordeal of self-preservation and survival in the Utah desert. 127 Hours is very deserving of the award nominations and attention it has received. 127 Hours received 3 Golden Globe nominations and 6 Oscar nominations. While it lost out on the Golden Globes, I am hopeful for it in the Oscars! Here is a quick look at what makes this film such a great success.
At first glimpse, 127 Hours may appear to be a rather boring film. How can a 94-minute movie about a guy who got stuck, literally between a rock and a hard place, and had to cut off his own arm be any good? What can they possibly do with a story like that to keep your attention? As soon as you start the movie, those questions quickly fade away. This survival story is about a man and his will to survive against insurmountable odds! 127 Hours features James Franco as Ralston, and he wows the audience in this drama-filled suspense. From the beginning, the audience immediately begins to relate to the character and become a part of his world. Franco brings an element of adventure mixed with emotion, independence mixed with companionship, and reality mixed with imagination, in such a manner that, without any backstory, you automatically feel as if you’ve known Aron Ralston for a long time and already know what type of person he is: carefree, enjoyable, self-reliant, determined, free-spirited, imaginative, and adventurous. He took what life handed him and made the best of it. This characteristic of Franco’s personification of Ralston is a necessary portion of this film that is landed perfectly. The relationship that Franco quickly forms with the audience is what keeps you engaged through the tumultuous 5 days that Ralston is imprisoned in the crevace of the Utah desert.
What keeps your attention in the first half of the film? Waiting for the infamous boulder to land on Aron’s arm! The film teases you a little bit as its storytelling and stage-setting makes you wait for the inevitable. In that time though, we follow Aron as he meets up with two other hikers that enjoy his company! All of the fun and excitement he brings to their experience is only a fraction of the fun and excitement he draws from just being out in the canyons on a regular basis. The events prior to actually play a part as to what keeps your attention in the second half of the film. In a most ingenious way, director Danny Boyle draws us more into the mind of Aron Ralston. I was impressed by the way in which Boyle depicts how little things bring memories and ideas to mind. While Ralston is stuck, every little thing brings in a flood of memories and ideas which the audience, having not seen most of them, is able to pick up on and relate to in such a believeable manner.
The emotion that Franco brings to the story as Ralston is superb. Not only does he invite us to laugh and joke, but he also invites us to be scared and cry right alongside him. We share scenes of laughter and scenes of fear; scenes of regret and scenes of adventure. His videotaped monologues are full of witty banter which keep us entertained and, though it temporarily relieves us from thinking about his unfortunate predicament, soon reality rears its ugly head once again and the mood of the scene quickly changes. Most films that flip back and forth, do so unsuccessfully. 127 Hours takes us back and forth rather seamlessly and impressively.
From little things like moisturizing a contact lens in his mouth to memories of Scooby Doo, and from running out of fresh water to being so appreciative of a few minutes of sunshine, Ralston’s harrowing experience shared by the audience makes one wonder just what exactly they would do in that situation. After exhausting all other opportunitees, of course, the inevitable makes its way to the screen. The actual progression of events during which Ralston separates himself from his dead arm is not the easiest of things to watch…but HOW they showed what he experienced is brilliant. (I twinge just replaying it in my mind as I write this). The end is seemingly anti-climatic, and, I will admit, I was hoping for a little bit more closure with the additional characters/supporting cast in this story. Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn did an amazing job in their roles and I felt that they deserved a little bit extra attention towards the end.
Overall though, a fantastic job by Franco and Boyle telling the unforgettable story of a man who, determined not to give up, took an unfortunate 127 Hours as an opportunity for a new lease on life! A very well done job, deserving of awards! Thank you Danny Boyle, James Franco, and especially, Aron Ralston, for sharing this story in such a professional and impactful way! 127 Hours Rocks!!….don’t miss it!
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!
–TheSp1der’s Score: 4 out of 5 stars for “127 Hours”