Film Review: 127 Hours

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Film Review

Title – 127 Hours
Released – 7 January 2011 (in UK)
Running time – 94 mins
Age limit – 15

Critically acclaimed director Danny Boyle’s latest outing starring James Franco hasn’t had as much praise as one would hope. Slumdog Millionaire, for example, absolutely ruled the Oscars back in 2009, everyone adored it. Me, however, I liked it, but I don’t really see what the fuss was about. It’s an unlikely hero story that you can see in the cinema consistently. I do not doubt Boyle’s ability as a director, I simply doubt the public’s ability to truly see a classic film – 127 Hours is exactly that.

127 Hours is the film based on Aron Ralston’s autobiography Between A Rock And A Hard Place, the incredible true story of how Ralston went climbing in Utah, and slipped, falling into a crevice, his right arm trapped against the crevice wall by a pretty hefty rock. The 70 or so minutes in which Ralston is trapped under the rock in the film (it was actually, er, 127 hours….) is more or less Ralston’s failed attempts at freeing his arm, but also his on-going battle with keeping his sanity, as his water gradually runs out, with only a camera to keep him company.

The film boasts some incredibly moving sequences, occasionally frightening instances, and some genuinely funny moments. On hindsight, I don’t think I can find a single flaw in the film’s infrastructure – James Franco is a revelation as Ralston, the scenery is quite simply stunning, and praise has to be aimed mostly at Danny Boyle, for using probably hundreds of different camera angles in such a tiny space. Boyle went out to make the film as true to Ralston’s story as possible – the crevice is the exact crevice Ralston was stuck in, Boyle got Ralston’s real family in for some scenes, and he even went as far as getting the same helicopter pilot that rescued Ralston when he finally escapes. The attention detail is nothing short of remarkable, which is why this film deserves a lot more praise than it’s gotten. Films like The King’s Speech all have 5 Stars all over their movie posters – 127 Hours has numerous 4 Star reviews, maybe the odd 5 Star, but it’s way short of what the film deserves.

James Franco’s performance is, to put it bluntly, Oscar worthy. Franco manages to keep the audience captivated for the entire film as his portrayal of the book, according to people who’ve met Ralston, is pretty much perfect. Ralston has an arrogance about him from the word go. The fact he goes climbing on his own in Utah without telling anybody – his parents, his work boss, and his friends – he even leaves without taking a phone with him. Climbing is an unbelievably dangerous sport anyway; it’s pretty safe to say that having some way to contact someone if trouble strikers should be first on your list of things to pack in your bag. Some people have claimed that Franco’s performance isn’t brilliant because he comes across as not-likable – which baffles me completely. How is it Franco’s fault that he comes across as dislikeable, when his friends and family have admitted that Ralston himself was (he isn’t now, as you can probably guess) an arrogant so and so. Based on that, Franco is exceptional as Ralston, judging him because of the character is simply unfair. I haven’t seen as good a performance as that in a very long time – I applaud you, Mr Franco.

I simply can’t review this film without going into particular detail about the scene everyone has been talking about – the now infamous arm-cutting scene. In a word – sublime. The film has been known to lead to one of two people fainting, others feeling nauseous, and, the more common occurence, people simply walking out half way through the scene. I have to admit, I’ve seen a fair share of gore in films in my time, but I haven’t seen a scene like this look so real. Normally when there’s a scene involving a lost limb, there isn’t much detail and a bucket load of blood, whereas in this one, you can see the bone, muscles, tendons, the lot, it looks amazing. Moreover, the music used is quite exceptional, so exceptional that I have it on my Spotify (in fact, Liberation, the song that plays over this scene, is my 4th most listened to song on Spotify in the past week!), and it’s truly superb. There’s a genuinely horrific moment during the scene where Ralston is trying to cut through his nerve, each touch of the nerve with his rusty pen knife cues a tremendous musical scream that sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. It’s a definite contender for the Best Soundtrack award at the Oscars (competing alongside, more than likely as the official nominations haven’t been revealed yet, the absolutely phenomenal Inception soundtrack), and, if there were such an award, Best Scene of the Year too. It’s only January.

Even though 127 Hours fits just into the threshold to compete at the Oscars coming up in a few weeks (when the nominations for the Oscars are announced I will do my best to give my own comprehensive round up of the films I have seen, and indeed do my best to see the films I haven’t before the Oscars itself), but 2011 has a lot to offer if it’s going to satisfy my film needs as much as Danny Boyle and James Franco did with this masterpiece.

Unbelievably good; would happily see it again! 9.5/10

You can read more reviews by RuhBuhJuh on his review blog, though we cannot be held responsible for the content of external blogs.


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