A blog about movies and filmmaking.

This Movie Will Make You Want To Call Your Mom | 127 HOURS

In drama on November 5, 2010 at 12:37 am

There are so many things to discuss when it comes to 127 HOURS, the new movie from Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE), starring James Franco (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) and an immovable rock. So, it’s hard to choose where to start. I guess the obvious is in how this is a wonderful companion piece to the life-affirming/altering/speculating, yet traumatic, pieces of art I’ve most recently seen in the forms of ENTER THE VOID and HEREAFTER. 127 Hours stands right along these two movies, in some ways perfectly lining up, and in others making a turn to go in another direction. They all deal with life, death, memories and love. They’re all tragic, and heart-felt stories that tell us we really have no choice but to make the choices we’ve made and will make in our lives. It’s beautiful storytelling, though possibly a little neater than Hereafter; and definitely less scarring then Enter The Void.

The other main thing to mention is that Danny Boyle just has a way of making the most dire of situations still wind up feeling not so bad. Whether it’s the near-fatal trap of your arm stuck under a rock, hurtling helplessly into the sun, or being chased by thugs and/or zombies; it’s still worth fighting for just one more day. It’s probably why I feel like I’d like to see 127 Hours again – despite it nearly falling into the realm of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST or REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, okay, it’s not as fatalistic as either of those. Hell, I’ll probably wind up buying this on DVD. (Can’t say the same for those other two movies.)

But, the story – in case you don’t know – is about Aron Ralston (Franco), a man who takes off unannounced to anyone for a weekend of hiking in Utah. He runs into some girls, has a flirtatious time then heads off again alone. Only to wind up trapped for 5 days with his hand pinned under a rock at the bottom of a ravine. The rest of the movie is him trying to get free, rehashing his life; hallucinating about long-dead cowboys and rain; and finally the harrowing task of removing a portion of his forearm to get free. If you didn’t know that was what the story was and are now pissed that I spoiled it; don’t worry, it’s better that you know before going in.

The majority of the movie is spent with Ralston and his trapped appendage. He has a video camera with him, which leads to moments of him reporting on his statuses (how much water is left, offering the camera to whoever finds it as long as they deliver the tape to his parents), and also some other fun stuff. There’s plenty of hallucinatory imagery and flashbacks through his life, as certain things trigger memories. Like a flicker of sun that streaks in every morning; or a crow that flies overhead at nearly the same time every day.

Then there’s the climax. The time we all know is coming. Something that had me nearly more anxious in the still lit, pre-screening theater, than I was before PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2. Ralston has to make the ultimate decision to get free. The worst part about this, is something that actually occurs in the opening credits of the movie. As he’s fumbling through his apartment collecting the tools and supplies he’ll need; Ralston doesn’t take his Swiss Army knife. So, he’s left with a dull blade on a generic multi-tool. The fun (if you can call it that) of this part of the movie, is the way that Boyle translates what Ralston is going through to the audience. The sound design here is amazing, and there’s some effects that some might understand – but being someone who has dealt with a raw nerve before, I knew exactly what he was getting across.

It’s excruciating to be sure, but all the hype about the gore and attention to detail is being a little over-sold. As all true cinematic masters know, it’s what you don’t show that really makes the audience squirm and that’s exactly what happens here. The other thing is, the movie’s not over once he gets free. We don’t freeze-frame and see some text telling us that Aron survived. Instead we get to see his trip to actually being rescued. Which, honestly is almost as frightening and gross in certain moments, as the actual hacking.

But, in the end – much like Hereafter – I walked out feeling slightly positive. Though definitely feeling like I wanted to call my mom and be a better son and all that. It’s a breath-taking movie; from it’s cinematography of the natural landscapes to the way we’re put in the same situation as Ralston as he goes through this incident. The music, from the fun, poppy opening to some of the scarier tracks that happen later and even to the closing credit song; also adds another element to the movie. And of course, there’s Franco’s performance. Yes, there are other actors in the movie, but Franco owns it and is pitch-perfect. I don’t really call people on star-making roles, but this might actually be it for him.

Definitely worth seeing.

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