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Deep doodoo on dooyoo
127 Hours (DVD)
Member Name: stevek181
127 Hours (DVD)
Date: 01/12/11, updated on 02/12/11 (80 review reads)
Advantages: Great lead performance, compelling story, beautifully filmed
Disadvantages: Unlikely subject matter, one gruesome scene
- - - "I chose this. I chose all this. This rock... this rock has been waiting for me my entire life. It's entire life, ever since it was a bit of meteorite a million, billion years ago. In space. It's been waiting, to come here. Right, right here. I've been moving towards it my entire life. The minute I was born, every breath that I've taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface." - - -
The making of 127 hours must have been something of a challenge.
Firstly, Aron Ralston's story was well documented at the time, and the book he wrote about his experiences has become a best-seller. The movie, therefore, has no real sense of suspense.
Secondly, there isn't much of an actual story to tell. For those who don't know, it's the true story of thrill seeker Aron Ralston (James Franco) who gets his arm trapped by a falling boulder when climbing down a crevice in Utah National Park back in 2003.
"I'm in pretty deep doodoo here."
Franco has no hope of rescue; he neglected to tell anyone where he was going. The boulder, quite clearly, isn't for shifting. Franco's in for a long wait (the clue may be in the title) before taking the only action possible. Deep doodoo indeed.
And that's kind of it. The film is, as director Danny Boyle, succinctly describes it "an action movie in which the hero doesn't move".
That the finished product is entertaining, inspiring, gruesome, thought-provoking and full of dark humour, then, is something of an achievement.
That is, of course, largely due to the performance of the lead actor. A film that is focussed on one character in one location relies greatly on the actor's performance and Franco does not disappoint. From the early scenes where he meets a couple of female hikers demonstrating his character's eccentric and easygoing character but also his natural arrogance, to the sheer terror as he comes to terms with his predicament, it is a nuanced and haunting performance.
Ralston is a resourceful character and after the accident tries a number of escape methods. We feel the pain and frustration with him as he realises the futility of these attempts and the gravity of his predicament dawns on him.
It becomes evident pretty early on that there is really only one way out of his predicament. And it's going to hurt. This leads to the film's central question and theme - "what would you do?". It's certainly a thought-provoking piece that captures in perfect elemental simplicity the strength of human endurance and that most essential of human characteristics; the ability to survive. Other themes of fate and loneliness are looked at, but such an intimate character-driven movie, discourages us from looking at the wider picture.
As dehydration and exhaustion begin to tell, Ralston's battle becomes both physical and psychological. Using black humour to keep himself sane, one of the highlights of the film is a mock interview which Ralston creates whilst trapped, with himself voicing both the interviewer and the interviewee.
Aron Ralston (as interviewer): Now... Is it true that despite, or maybe because you're a big f***ing hard hero... you didn't tell anyone where you were going?
Aron Ralston: (as himself) Yeah. That's absolutely correct.
Aron Ralston: (as interviewer) Anyone?
Aron Ralston: (as himself, shaking his head) Anyone.
Aron Ralston: (as interviewer) Oops...
[imaginary audience laughs)
Aron Ralston: (as himself) Oops. Oops
The cinematography and direction is nothing short of beautiful. Early scenes demonstrate the lure of the desert; camera angles and split screens highlighting the adrenaline-fuelled world that has become Ralston's drug of choice.
Later, with Ralston trapped in his self-made prison, the contradiction between the vastness of the bleak desert is made with what is now Ralston's world; an hour of sunshine a day, an eagle's flight-path, his meagre provisions.
Ralston divides his time between planning his escape, recording farewells on his camcorder, daydreaming (which gives a neat opportunity to introduce us to some more characters) and battling with his sanity.
The film's most famous scene, which I won't describe as it would be a spoiler for the few people who don't know, reportedly caused people in the audience to faint. It's easy to see why. In part, this is due to Franco's performance and the fact that we can identify and empathize with him so closely, having lived this nightmare with him.
127 hours is a wonderful achievement on behalf of Boyle and Franco. A plot that could be described in a few words is turned into 90 minutes of laugh-out-loud, wince-in-sympathy tension with some spectacular camera work, neat soundtrack and top-class acting. This is something we have come to expect from Boyle who's work, including Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, I have always enjoyed. Not so much from Franco, best known for his role in the Spiderman trilogy. The performance here shows an ability never hinted at before.
All in all, 127 hours is well worth watching even if, for some, the most important and well known scene is unwatchable.
Release Date: 7 Jan 2011
Length: 94 minutes
Awards: Nominated for 6 Oscars
Ratings: 7.8/10 IMDB.com
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Family Ratings: Rated 15, for one fairly graphic scene in particular. Also some strong swearing.
Price: About £5 - £7 on Amazon
Summary: A unusual film this; a "true story" that is actually true. Ralston described it as "close to as a documentary as you could get and still be a drama".
There must have been a huge temptation to embellish and exaggerate on such a basic, albeit compelling, story. Credit must go to all concerned for, to a certain extent, allowing the story to tell itself. They do so with skill, simplicity and a real understanding and empathy.
All in all, an excellent film made from the most unlikely subject-matter. Boyle yet again demonstrates an ability for which lesser directors would give their.....well, y'know...
Summary: What would you do?