127 Hours
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Theatrical Release Date: 11/19/2010
Director: Danny Boyle
Cast: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Sean A. Bolt, Treat Williams, Kate Burton

Golden Mug2010 Golden Mug

Best Director (Danny Boyle)
Best Actor (James Franco)
Best Editing (Jon Harris)
Best Song (“If I Rise” by Dido & A.R. Rahman)


You could at least buy that wall a drink before you get so handsy.

Many people may remember the story of climber/canyoneer Aron Ralston. In 2003, he set off alone in the desolate Utah landscape and in a freak accident, had his arm pinned underneath a boulder. I won’t say anymore than that though, as his ordeal is the subject of director Danny Boyle’s latest film, “127 Hours”.

Playing Ralston is James Franco, who is the key reason that the film works and audiences will connect with it. The bulk of the story takes place as Ralston is trapped and alone, slowly exhausting his water supply, beginning to hallucinate and taking stock of his life up to that point. This is Franco’s finest acting performance and is sure to get him nominated in the upcoming awards season. He captures the zeal that Ralston exhibited about being in nature, the despair over his plight and the powerful will to survive that people generate in extreme circumstances.

In condensing 127 hours into 93 minutes, Boyle proves to those unfamiliar with his work before “Slumdog Millionaire” why he is so respected in the industry and much of the credit must also go to editor Jon Harris, who also cut this year’s “Kick-Ass“. The collaboration between Boyle and Harris is spot-on and keeps the film moving. The opening credits sequence felt a bit disjointed and odd at first, but very much fits into the scheme of the film as a whole and their ability to add energy to the project can’t be overlooked, considering this is a movie about a guy stuck underneath a rock.

Additionally helping Boyle out is his longtime cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle and a number of collaborators from “Slumdog”; composer A.R. Rahman and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy. Each contribute to the film’s pulse and although Rahman blows the score out of proportion often, his collaboration with Dido works very well and may find itself on the short list for Best Song for the year.

There is an obvious comparison to make between this and another 2010 film: “Buried“, where Ryan Reynolds is held hostage in a coffin. Each actor does a fine job but certain elements that didn’t work so well for Reynolds sing true here, like recording goodbyes in a video camera and the sense of claustrophobia audiences feel being trapped in a tight space. The difference comes down to Boyle’s expertise and decision making, so for those who have seen one, it’s worth checking out the other to see the difference.

“127 Hours” isn’t built for mass marketing and isn’t a film one sees on a whim. Also, those who find themselves a bit squeamish about bodily fluids or can’t handle some of the more graphic “CSI” episodes may not want to see this on the big screen (a couple of people fainted at the Toronto Film Festival due to some of the content). However, if you’re interested in seeing one of the best acting performances of the year, this is not one to miss. Boyle’s direction, along with the efforts of his team, elevate this straight-forward story into something both gruesome and inspiring, even for those who know the story, and I’m giving it a 4 out of 5.

4 out of 5