It’s really hard to begin this review since I am not sure if I should start to heap praises on James Franco first or let the opening be about Danny Boyle’s gift to make any genre work.
Now I might be very prejudiced here since a few days ago I had the inexplicable urge to rewatch Slumdog Millionaire and thoroughly enjoyed it once again, so I’m not sure if something of that has influenced my view on this movie.
What’s it about?
The movie is based on a true story about the engineer Aron Ralston who’s passion for mountain climbing led to an unfortunate accident in Bluejohn Canyon. The title giving 127 hours is the time he spent in a canyon with his arm crushed between the canyon wall and a big rock.
So the movie is basically a 90 minutes one man show of James Franco, who is starting to become one of my favourite actors (loved his performance in Milk) after being the emo-friend of Spider-Man for a while. It’s a good thing that Franco was able to escape this typecast and become a very fine actor. And for a movie like this you not only need a good performance, you need a tremendous and mesmerizing performance.
The film starts with a parade of product placements that would have made I, Robot proud, but in a way so energetic I couldn’t help but think of the “O…Saya” opening sequence.
The character of Aron is introduced so well and funny, you can’t help but like him. When the inevitable loose rock appeared I even started hoping that he just would turn around and not be trapped in the canyon – compared to many other movies this year, 127 hours had me hooked into the movie in the first few minutes, which is really an important factor because it doesn’t take long until the accident and the whole movie is rather short.
What follows is a tour de force of all the talents involved, a reflection on life, hope, despair… the movie covers all ranges of the emotional spectrum expect the trademark screaming-breakdown-Oscar-scene.
Behind the camera:
Jumping from …
drug addicts (Trainspotting)
to Sci-Fi (Sunshine)
to Bollywood (Slumdog Millionaire)
with a little horror between (28 days later) …
Danny Boyle continues to prove his versatility by delivering another fantastic movie right after his 2008 grand slam with Slumdog and I always love it when directors after winning the prestigious award go to discover new territory.
There are a lot of things to notice like sequences with lower framerate (when the picture is not moving very smoothly) which was used a lot of times during the flashbacks of Slumdog. Aron’s wandering mind and memories make this movie not quite as claustrophobic as Buried, which perfected the “man trapped somewhere”-technique, the sequences serve more as a well placed enhancement of Aron’s current state.
Also the tone shifts a lot of times, there are unexpectedly funny parts after about two thirds, which amuse a lot before they drastically shift to sober self-reflection of Aron’s personal life. Many parts of the movie are presented in a split-screen mode where three actions take place at the same times or three angles show the same thing, which I’m not too big a fan of, but it worked more often for me than it didn’t.
Generally the entire technical department of this movie is top notch, from camerawork to editing (as I guessed when the Oscar nominations were announced – the editing was just too well done to be ignored) to soundtrack/score and especially the audio department.
There are scenes in this movie that are just insanely well crafted because of the way the audio is utilisted – seldom did noise so well reflect emotions and help us put our minds into this guy’s situation.
127 hours is both uplifting and terrifying,
It’s gut-wrenching and intimate
It is a movie about never giving up, about things that really matter.
It is a very touching movie and way more entertaining than most oscar-bait movies and I just hope that many more people will watch and experience it.