127 Hours (2010)

Do not lose it.

“The film about that guy who cut his hand off with a dull knife” an interesting premise, based on the story of Aron Ralston who got caught in a canyon by a boulder pinning his right hand between two close walls. 127 Hours turns out to be more than a sensationalist gorefest (supposedly several people fainted at the first screening at Toronto Film Festival), it’s a story of perserverence, insipiration and pain, and includes one of 2010’s, if not the 21st century’s best male performances by James Franco.

Danny Boyle‘s great direction shines through yet again when he savours the incredible landscape and colours of the barren, burnt orange and skyblue landscape of the canyon land in Utah. He gets from Franco what every director and audience member wants to feel; you actually believe you are watching an actual person coming to terms with his looming death, not an actor trying to tap into that despair. James Franco gives a moving performance (he got to know Ralston well, and saw the real footage that he shot with a digital camera during his 127 hours of ‘capitivity’), portraying the disbelief, insanity, calmness, control, euphoria in a way that wouldn’t work with a less equipped actor. The moment when Ralston (Franco) realises that he can actually break his bones, and cut through the soft tissues hopefully releasing him from this natural prison, the look in Franco’s eyes is something that is hard to descripe as anything other than manic joy and euphoria. Ralston has highlighted in interviews, that in that moment, when he saw an opportunity of actually maybe getting out of there, what previously had been for him a very controlled experienced, turned into a whirlwind insanity of pain and adrenalin when he had to rip his own nerves, break his bones and sever his arm with a budget knife.

What makes this film great, is the very difficult prenotion of what it is to shoot this journey of a single place and a single person and their camera, without losing the tempo and magic of filmmaking. Here Boyle and Franco, and the editing team especially, triumph to bring out the thoughts and feelings one goes through in a situation where you are sure of your death. Ralston carved his name, birthday and what he assumed to be his death-month on the rock next to him, and recorded his Will and Testament on video. He halluzinated, yelled, cried, accepted and did whatever he could to survive (including drinking his own urine, when his one bottle of water was finished). All in all, 127 Hours was one of the most rewarding and inspiring films I’ve seen in a long time, it shines light to the absurdness of chance, the things we can overcome with willpower and the strength of mind. One of my favourites from last year.

9 / 10


12 responses to “127 Hours (2010)

  1. I’m really pulled apart (pun intended) by the idea of this movie. On the other hand I do like Franco and it sounds awesome. On the other hand I’m slightly claustrophobic and the whole idea of having to cut your own hand off sounds so awful… So don’t know if I CAN watch it, even if I wanted to.

  2. Oh, I think now I have to watch this. The trailer looked quite so-so in my opinion and James Franco isn’t my one of my favourite male actors but you made it sound so interesting (+exceptionally high grade)!

    Cutting bones with a budget knife sounds like a French horror movie for me. :D

  3. Of the 2010 films I missed, this is the one I regret the most. Glad to know it’s good. Hopefully I’ll be able to see it when it comes out on DVD. Great review.

  4. You’re right, Franco is fantastic! I never expected such a performance from him, he’s charming and lovable even if he’s a complete ass sometimes. His eyes work wonders in this movie.

  5. Let me tell you — when he dropped that knife, my butt was slightly off the chair and my mouth wide open. I was so into it.

    I was wondering if you’ve seen him on “Howl.” I’m torn whether he should be Oscar nominated for that one or “127 Hours.” For me, he’s stronger in “Howl.”

    • Haven’t seen it thanks to it’s UK release date of Feb 2011, but from clips, reviews and interviews I do believe it’s a great role. It’s more about the different-to-Franco-himself character though, when in 127 it’s the emotion that matters. Got to check it though! Thanks for the recommend. But realistically, if he is nominated, it’ll be for 127 Hours right :-)

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