Thursday, February 24, 2011

127 Hours

My boy James Franco as Aron Ralston
127 Hours (U.S., 2010) directed by Danny Boyle, 94 minutes

Nominated for 6 Oscars
Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Franco)
Best Film Editing
Best Original Score
Best Original Song - “If I Rise”
Best Picture
Best Adapted Screenplay

I have to admit I have been avoiding this film because of that scene, you know the one I mean...every sentient being on the planet knows the plot of this film: the true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), a young man with a taste for adventure who goes mountain climbing near Blue John Canyon in Utah in 2003 and falls into a crevice, literally gets wedged between a rock and a hard place and spends 127 hours trapped until he cuts part of his arm off to escape.

When the film premiered at TIFF last year there were reports of people throwing up and passing out. Oy...I really didn't think I could handle it. Truth is I spent the worst scene watching the film with a scarf wrapped around my eyes.

I can't think of more diverse films than Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later..., Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours (among Boyle's many films). Director Danny Boyle is talented, eclectic and intriguing in his interests and directorial choices. Of this film he said:

...I knew that I wanted to make it a very immersive, first-person experience...because I think it’s so extraordinary what happens at the end of the film. I thought the only way you could possibly ever tolerate seeing that depicted in a way that was truthful—in the way that Aron depicts it in the book—is if you had been involved in the experience, and were somehow participating in it on some level.

It seems a near impossible thing to film - how to convey what happens to Ralston when the majority of time he is trapped by the boulder? The film never lags or bores. It certainly conveys, through its rapid editing and exuberant music, the energy and adventurousness of Ralston who blithely goes off on his own without leaving a message for family or friends as to his whereabouts during his trip which he soon comes to regret. Split screens are usually chaotic and annoying visually to me as a viewer but in this case they quickly convey the fragmented nature of Ralston's thinking as he begins to hallucinate over the five days.

Franco is completely disarming as Ralston - whether he is charming the two girls he meets in his travels, leaving a final video message for his parents, reliving an old romance or imagining the presence of his future son Leo (a son who was born in 2010) which propels him to take this final desperate action to be free.

Franco has it all: talent, brains, good looks, the courage to make controversial acting choices. I hope his efforts are rewarded at the Oscars.

Intriguingly, Ralston continues to be active: mountain climbing, skiing, swimming. He's bloody fearless and I wish I could say the same for my wimpy self.

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