127 Hours, A-
127 Hours is the true story of Aron Ralston, a mountain climbing enthusiast who’s arm was stuck between a boulder and canyon wall in Utah. He famously had to sever his arm with rudimentary tools in order to survive. He released his tale in his memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which the film was adapted from.
In order to tell this very simple and gruesome tale, Boyle employs extreme style to tell this story. I’m a bit off put by this choice, because the frantic editing at certain points makes me feel, as an audience member, like the director himself was bored with this material. I wish he just kept the story simpler.
That being said, Danny Boyle and his crew (especially DP’s Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak, and Editor Jon Harris) are still the true stars of this film. After all that unnecessary visual dazzle, Boyle hit me with his first striking cinematic technique; as Ralston leaves his encounter with two ladies, Kristi and Megan, Boyle puts the camera in Franco’s face and starts playing loud fast paced music. After, he suddenly cuts away and we hear the music from his headphones at a distance, setting up that his “coolness” is really just in his head and will probably be his downfall (which of course we know is what happens).
James Franco does a truly tremendous job, but that’s no surprise. He turns in what I’d call his 3rd best performance, after Howl and Milk. Favorite moment of his is the kind of “morning show” he does for himself with the camcorder. Moving on, he and his character (in a fashion that gets a little too close to corny, as is often the case with Boyle) portray two very important things. More obviously, he is an example of the triumph of the human spirit, a true American hard worker willing to do anything to succeed. This has been discussed at length, so I’d rather concentrate on the latter. 127 Hours points out how rare it is that we take the time to stop and reflect on what we’re doing with our lives and why. Imagine just taking out more time, perhaps maybe one day a month, to really reflect on who you are, where you’re going, and how you’d feel about your life if you died today. If we did this, we’d have more of these pertinent existential experiences like Aron did.
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