Friday, 7 January 2011

127 Hours - Review

Anyone with even a slight interest in film, or even current affairs, will know what Danny Boyle's latest film, 127 Hours is about long before they've settled themselves in the cinema. Furthermore if you know what it's about, then you'll know already know about that particular scene. However if you prefer to be kept in the dark about such matters, 127 Hours tells the true story of adrenaline junkie, Aaron Ralston, as he finds himself trapped in an isolated cavern, located in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

Admittedly I wasn't overly enamoured by the idea of sitting in a cinema watching a man struggle between life and death for 90 minutes before the inevitable conclusion the film leads us to. I'm not squeamish, it just isn't my idea of a pleasant afternoon out, or in front of the television. However, the film takes this rather straight forward story and creates something of a personal odyssey of Ralston's soul - highlighting the mistakes and flaws of his past which he eventually feels he needs to rectify, by any means necessary. The real man himself, in the years after, described the whole event about how he didn't lost a hand, but gained his life back.

James Franco has progressed leaps and bounds since his early days appearing as Peter Parker's troubled chum in the Spider-Man films, taking on all kinds of different roles, and coming out all the better for it, transforming himself into one of Hollywood's genuine leading men of this generation.

With 127 Hours he continues this streak of great performances with the touching portrayal of Aaron Ralston, not necessarily coming across like a bad person pre-amputation, but certainly emerging as a new man after. His performance carried the audience through every emotion imaginable, often tragic, desperate, comedic and even uplifting, which is quite remarkable considering he lead most of the film, on his own, in such a confined space - slightly reminiscent of Ryan Reynolds in last year's stripped down minimalistic thriller, Buried.

Visually, as Rolston starts to lose a slight grip on reality, the film takes us through some truly strange and trippy imagery, often teasing that the character might be saved or, quite the opposite, die there alone without so much as a whimper. Of course, the main talking point of 127 Hours is the infamous amputation scene, and it's as hard-hitting and uncomfortable as initial reports have suggests. However, to Danny Boyle's credit he does execute it (poor wording?) with a degree of elegance and integrity, which doesn't lower the tone of the whole film.

Once you get over the first tentative sounds of bones breaking - which I personally thought was worse than the slicing of the arm - just switch off the mind and let yourself be carried by the emotional roller-coaster that ensues from there on, as it makes for some truly remarkable cinema, enhanced even more by the sounds of Sigur Ros. Yes I admit, the tears were flowing and the heart was left feeling toasty warm.

Final Thoughts
127 Hours has all the ingredients for award-winning success; another excellent leading performance from James Franco, an original approach, beautiful direction and epic camera-work from Danny Boyle as well as intensely provocative themes which test the true perseverance of the human soul. Truly remarkable cinema, but unfortunately I'm not sure if I could handle watching it again for a long time after.


127 Hours is in cinemas everywhere now.

1 comment:

ruth said...

Great review, Andrew. I've read so many reviews on this but still enjoyed reading yours. I'm so intrigued by Ralston's story but because I'm terribly squeamish, I know I can't handle THAT scene in the theater. I'll save this one for dvd.

I agree with you though, this is one of those award-winners you can only watch one. Like Passion of the Christ which moved me beyond belief but I can't possibly bear seeing that again.