Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Review: 127 Hours

127 Hours (c) 2010 Pathé

So I'm staying true to my New Year's promise and will do a review on a film which I saw at a press screening. If I'll see the stats for the post will be good, I'll do a couple more of these. If not, I'll still do a little more reviews than before, but only about one a month.

Danny Boyle is a filmmaker who I rather appreciate than flat-out love. Granted, I haven't seen Trainspotting and I really like 28 Days Later... but usually I find his films to be a bit over-indulgent and hyperactive. The same goes to 127 Hours, which is the survival story of a guy (James Franco) who has his hand jammed between a rock.

Boyle begins and ends his movie with scenes which show large masses of people going through their daily races, praying, at a basketball game, etc. It is made clear that the main character Aron Ralston is just one among the masses. He's an everyman, who happens to like to wander in the canyons in Utah. Him being alone out there in the nature creates a contrast to the rest of Aron's life. Every major point in his previous life have all happened while he has been surrounded with a lot of people. One Christmas with the family that woke his interest in wandering in the wild. A girl first confessing him she loves him in a car full of naked people. And the same girl leaving him in the middle of a crowded basketball game.

So what happens is Aron gets stuck alone in the bottom of a canyon with his right hand being jammed between a huge boulder. What begins is a study of the human mind in such a desperate condition. Aron reminiscens old events and makes confessions to his digital camera. As Boyle allows his camera to fly far away to show the vast landscapes without a soul around, the real claustrophobia of the situation is somewhat lost. One can't help but to compare the film to the similar Buried, which lost at realism, but created at least a better claustrophobic feeling. The audience was kept at toes whether the rescue team arrives on the spot or not. With 127 Hours everyone probably knows that the only way Aron can get out of this mess is to cut off his own hand. Those scenes are not for the squeamish. But Boyle suggests that every single one of us could do the same to survive. And importantly, as people and not regressing as animals. Aron acts pretty reasonably through and through, save for a few little fury scenes and babbling nonesense to the camera.

The story is based on the experiences of a real Aron Ralston (who is shown during the end credits) and is of course a gripping one. But Boyle tries a little too hard to connect the one story to the whole human experience. Thus he sees nonexistent Scooby-Doos and dreams about major life points which could be from anybody's life. James Franco as the lead does very good work. His Aron is at once an everyman and a survivalist determined to make out alive. Aron is not a clear cut hero and has made mistakes before and probably will make them again. He is easy to root for and at the same time easy to identify with. Also the way Boyle shoots landscapes is very pretty. I just hope he would've restrained himself from too many split-screens, fast editing and crowd scenes and kept the story more intimate.


USA/UK, 2010
Director: Danny Boyle
Screenplay: Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel by Aron Ralston


  1. I have been surprised with some very critical reviews this movie has received - because I totally loved this movie. I was wondering if the fast cutting and editing is the one that divides people's opinions? As that was the one that you mentioned, that the movie would have been better if it was more intimate.

    I personally liked the movie with fast, going forward feeling because it made the actual theme less depressing. If it had been slower, I'm afraid the movie could have become a torture to watch as the theme was not very easy to watch even now.

  2. I think it's Boyle's direction that is the most dividing thing about the film for sure. Now, I'm not a filmmaker so I can't really say how the film should've been made. Personally, I just get a feeling from Boyle's recent films that he's a bit overconfident in his style. His themes may vary but the style of his films keeps on being really similar. I'd hope he would challenge himself a bit more. I agree with the review in HS that blamed the ongoing sound effects and Alternative music for bringing too much noise where silence would've been more poignant.

    But some people do find the film very awesome, and it is by no means a bad film. It's just that it didn't speak personally to me. After all, it's a matter of taste and no view is any more right or wrong from the other.



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