Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

127 Hours

On Friday April 25, 2003, 27 year old Aron Ralston headed out for a hiking trip into Utah's Blue John Canyon, territory he knew very well. The next afternoon he tried to get into a narrow canyon to take some pictures as a boulder got loose. He and the boulder both fell and before he knew it Ralston's right arm was pinned between the rock and the canyon wall. Having told no one where he was going and without a cell phone, Ralston knew he was in serious trouble. "127 Hours," tells the amazing true story of how he got free.
Ralston's story has been well known to the public at large for several years, making the exuberance of the early part of this film all the more impressive. Even knowing what is to come you can't help but enjoy watching Ralston (James Franco) bound across the rocky landscape and befriending two lost young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn). Franco displays a devil may care charisma that immediately pulls us in. It doesn't hurt that it's directed and co-written by Danny Boyle, who has long had a knack for making wildly entertaining movies with often dour subject matter ("Trainspotting," "Slumdog Millionaire"). It is only when Ralston says a carefee goodbye to his new friends that a sense of dread begins to creep in. Not for Ralston, but most certainly for the audience. From this point forth "127 Hours" is an intense experience that is sometimes very difficult to watch, but ultimately uplifting and one of the few "inspirational" movies you'll ever see that actually earns that tag.
As he was trapped, the real Ralston took short breaks from trying to free himself by documenting the experience with his video camera, mainly to say goodbye to his parents, knowing he would probably not be getting out alive. His tape has not been released to the general public but it was shown to Franco and Boyle. It's unclear how much of what we see is verbatim from the real tape and how much is the invention of Boyle and co-writer Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire") but none of it feels false. Even Aron's mock TV morning show interview with himself in an attempt to keep himself sane comes off right.
Carrying virtually every moment of "127 Hours" squarely on his shoulders, Franco delivers a performance that will be long remembered and revered and with good reason. He lets us in on Ralston's thought process and emotional state through the entire ordeal striking every note perfectly. The title tells us how long it took Ralston to get out of the canyon and most who see the film will already know just what he had to do to get himself free. Franco's performance and Boyle's direction make the experience entirely engrossing. A great deal of credit goes to the sound department as well. Even if you can't bring yourself to look at the screen in certain moments you completely feel the intensity of Ralston's ultimate solution.
Although Aron Ralston had no one to physically help him for more than five days, "127Hours" is really the story of a lone wolf realizing he needed to get back to the people who loved him. He pulled himself out but it was a group of family and friends who saved him.
"127 Hours" is easily one of the best films of 2010 and Danny Boyle's best work since "Trainspotting." Many movies are described as powerful but this one truly is. Not many films get me near tears but "127 Hours" did. I can't recommend this highly enough. 10/10.

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