127 Hours is the new film from Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle. This is Boyle’s first film since winning the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire and reunites his entire team of writers, cameramen, crew and producers.
127 Hours is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, an outdoorsman, climber, mountain biker who finds peace in the emptiness of nature. Ralston is played by James Franco who gives a tour de force performance under Boyle’s direction. Franco, best known for The Pineapple Express and Spider-man franchise, has already given stellar performances in little known films like Howl and as Sean Penn’s lover in Milk. And your mom knows him as Franco from a recent run on television’s General Hospital. Franco in person comes across as aloof and a bit of a stoner (which he denies), but he is slowly turning into a go to actor when you can’t get Ryan Gosling or Mark Ruffalo.
Ralston goes out to the middle of nowhere in Utah to escape the suburban lifestyle and the film opens with him riding his bike through the open scenery shot beautifully by Boyle’s cinematographer. He runs into two lost female hikers and he shows them around and they eventually end up in a pool. The two females played by Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn, aren’t sure of Ralston and eventually he leaves them to finish his expedition. Speaking of Tamblyn, her tv pilot The Quintuplets should have been picked up by CBS because there were great actors who worked on that show (like Ken Murray).
Ralston carries on and eventually finds himself trapped and alone after a fall in a cave with a rock pinning his arm against the cave wall. If you know the story or read the book written by Aron, what comes next is still shocking to watch on screen. For those who don’t know the story, see the film and decide for yourself how you would have handled the situation.
127 hours is the time Ralston spent in the cave relying on what little food and water he brought with him and trying to keep his sanity which in certain scenes, based on his own video clips from the camera he brought with him, are tough to watch. Seeing a man’s mind slowly escape him knowing if he can not free himself he will surely die, makes for cringing moments and hands to eyes cinema.
With 90% of the film solely focused on Franco alone, Danny Boyle still makes an engaging and intense film. With upbeat music and typical Boyle shots, you tend to forget you are watching just one character. Those who are familiar with Boyle’s films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine (one of the most original sci-fi films of the past 20 years) and Trainspotting can see prototypical Boyle style in 127 Hours. Long winding shots of movement, upclose odd camera angles in water bottles and digital quick shots edited from 20 minute takes. An incredibly tense film, both men and women found themselves shifting in their seats and hoping what was coming wasn’t really coming.
Boyle seems to be the king of not sticking to one genre of film and admitted last night he would love to make a musical or animated film. 127 Hours is at times dramatic, funny, beautiful, intense, Saw-ish, and overall a Danny Boyle film.
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