Friday, July 8, 2011

Review: 127 Hours (2010) TH

Where there's an Aron Ralston, there's a way

Back in 2003, a thrill-junkie named Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, went out on what he thought was a weekend of fun and games in the remote canyons of Utah but got caught in an impossible situation that put his strength of character to the test. He didn't buddy up with someone, he didn't properly pack and most importantly he didn't tell anyone where he went. Call that irresponsible or call that the life of a risk taker and a gambler at heart. Right out of the gate, Aron shortly acts as a tour guide to two newly met girls, Kristi and Megan, who he treats with a little bit of unsure mysteriousness but know-how for adventure before going off on his own. While climbing down a cavern wall, a medium-sized rock comes loose and Aron falls down with it and gets his hand dislodged against an enclosed wall space, thus starting "127 hours" of his struggle.

Instead of just doing a quiet, emotion-on-the-face type movie, this switches between and interacts through a portable video camera that Aron talks into towards an imaginary audience similar to "Grizzly Man." This mode of interaction transforms the viewer to live and breath the moment-by-moment with the character as opposed to a piece that would look back with a dry and comfortable voice over top. Like the ball with a face in "Cast Away," Aron's camera becomes his friend to converse and reminisce with to bide his time. He's a guy who is used to falling down but always getting right back up again with a few scrapes to talk later about. He has a sense of cheer and humor despite the grim circumstances and won't let negativity get the best of him. He plans, he thinks and he ultimately becomes the situation and makes it routine through his wrist watch keeping time to the various items he brought in his pack to help him survive the best way he can.

There's going to be stylish film mechanics to keep things moving, such as frequent camera angles and interspersed music to lend feeling. There's a consistent pacing with "127 Hours" that's capable of showing what he went through without making it tedious or over-dramatizing; sometimes even upbeat and at one point philosophical. This can also be candid and straightforward, as well dreamy and sentimental. James Franco transforms this real life person into a likable guy who seems like he is always searching for something and on the move, that is until he got stuck in a predicament of predicaments which brought out every ounce of what perseverance, knowledge and endurance he has in him to either wait and get rescued, beat his body's clock or make a sacrifice.

Director: Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, The Beach, Slumdog Millionaire)
Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
Website: IMDB