9 feb. 2011

My Review: 127 Hours (7/10)

¨The minute I was born, every breath that I`ve taken, every action has been leading me to this crack on the out surface.¨

127 Hours is Danny Boyle`s latest film, after his Oscar winning picture, Slumdog Millionaire. His choice was a rather curious one considering the plot is about a man who gets his arm trapped in a crack of a canyon for 127 hours. The plot doesn`t seem to be all that attractive and most of us were already familiar with the true story that the film is based on so there was no real room for surprises. So why has the film been nominated for Best Picture? The answer is simple; Danny Boyle is a great director who happened to cast the right man for the lead role: James Franco. Franco gives one of the best performances of the year. He is just great in this film, which is actually a one man show. 127 Hours is only about 90 minutes long, but Franco`s character is trapped in the canyon with very little room for mobility from practically the very beginning (15 minutes into the movie) up to the very end. The entire film focuses on Franco with extreme close ups and his facial expressions are just all on the mark. James Franco is the reason why this film got so many great reviews and was nominated. Danny Boyle also made the film more interesting by resorting to flashbacks, daydreams, and hallucinations, but Franco is the main reason why this movie did as well as it did. I wasn`t too much of a fan of Boyle`s style of splitting the screen in two or three, but it was still visually stunning and the movie is worth the watch (although I disagree with the nomination for Best Picture).

The movie is very faithful to Aron Ralston`s autobiographical book, ¨Between a Rock and a Hard Place.¨ The screenplay was adapted by Danny Boyle himself and Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty and Slumdog Millionaire). It tells the true story of an arrogant mountain climber and outdoors person named Aron Ralston (played by James Franco) who goes out as he usually does every weekend after work into the Canyons in Utah. This weekend he happens to be heading towards the Blue John Canyon, and as usual he leaves without telling anyone where he is going. He is a bit of a solitary person who enjoys being outdoors with the nature and is pretty reckless. He arrives to the Canyon on Friday and on his expedition meets two girls Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) with whom he has a good time and teaches them a thing or two about the site. Little does he know that these will be the last two people he has contact with before the accident. He parts ways with them and starts heading towards the Blue John Canyon crack. Once he arrives and begins descending the crack, a rock falls and lands on his arm, not allowing him to move. He gets stuck in the crack without being able to move the heavy rock and knowing that no one will come searching for him because he hasn`t told anyone where he was heading. Aron has hardly any food and only a bottle of water to survive. The title gives away the amount of time Aron remains in the crack, and like I said there are no big surprises because we know the story, but the movie works thanks to Franco.

I do not want to give away too much of the film, but most everyone is familiar with Ralston and knows what he does in order to get out (yes he escapes, because if he didn`t there would be no autobiography or film so no this isn`t a spoiler). I won`t say how he does it in case you aren`t familiar with it, but all I can say is that it is a very strong and difficult scene to watch. It was really well done and I couldn`t help but cringe at the sight of it. It was a very painful scene, but Franco was excellent in it as well. He truly gives a powerful performance, and I won`t get tired of repeating it. I can`t believe it only took Boyle one take to get it done, it was just perfect. The reason why I´m only giving this film seven out of ten is because I really wasn´t hooked by the story. Yes, I liked Franco`s performance, but there was nothing new to the story. This would have made for an excellent short film, it would have been perfect, but in 90 minutes I just felt the film was stretched too long. I really didn`t care too much for the daydreams or flashbacks; although they did serve the purpose of at least changing the claustrophobic environment for a while. The best scenes were actually the ones in which James Franco would tape his video journal of each day. The one where he imagines he is getting invited to an early TV show and plays the interviewer and himself is just great and proves what a good job Franco did in this movie. I recommend this movie, I just don`t agree with the six Oscar nominations it received.

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