Multitasking graduate student, filmmaker, actor, poet, author and sometime soap star James Franco is back in an adrenaline rush called 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle’s first film since winning the Oscar two years ago for Slumdog Millionaire. It’s the most harrowing film of the year.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, this is the real-life tale of Aron Ralston, a fit, adventurous all-American dude who, in April 2003, while on an arduous hiking trip alone in Utah, fell through a crevice on a dangerous canyon climb and crashed to the bottom of a gorge, crushed in a vise of an unmoveable boulder. We watch helplessly as he lives through 127 hours of desperation–running out of
For a story about a man who cannot move, the ordeal unfolds at a pace that keeps you breathless.
Mr. Boyle captures the inner panic under the canyon surface and juxtaposes that desperation with the vastness of the sunlit world above. The use of tiny digital cameras and improvisational working methods gives the movie spontaneity without sacrificing any of the details of Ralston’s mind-blowing situation. Far from a Hollywood version of an outdoor thrill ride from the pages of Boy’s Life, the film takes into account the dangers of Ralston’s passion for risk, even holds his arrogance partially accountable for what happened. Despite what an experienced climber knows from experience, luck can run out at any time. The director does everything that can be done in a man vs. nature epic to keep it alive and spinning, and so does his star. 127 Hours is essentially a one-man tour de force, and Franco makes you feel every minute of this torture in a performance that is both grueling and captivating. Drifting into childhood reveries, living by his wits while facing certain death and recording everything with a camcorder held in his left hand, he acts in the moment and you live it with him, trapped by his side and vicariously sharing every mood shift. Fraught with tension, yet never claustrophobic, 127 Hours is a phenomenal piece of work in which a fine actor and an innovatively cinematic director join forces to keep you gasping for oxygen all the way.
Running time 93 minutes
Written and directed by Danny Boyle
Starring James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara