127 Hours traps raw human emotion and powerful storytelling all into one
Starring: James Franco.
Directed and Written by: Danny Boyle.
By Alexander McDevitt
Danny Boyle’s new feature film, straight after winning the Best Director’s Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, is 127 Hours. Hours depicts the true story of 28 year old Aaron Ralston, played by now Oscar nominated actor James Franco, who for 127 antagonizing and haunting hours in a mountain crevice in Utah, encounters the survival with one arm impractical to use and with both little food or water after a sudden accident leaving him vulnerable and alone. Hours is also, for me, one of the best movies of last year due to a powerful duo of great acting and directing.
Much acclaim has gone into Hours since its initial release back in November. First off, I agree with critics in saying that actor James Franco (Spiderman 1-3, Pineapple Express) was fantastic as Ralston, showing a more human side to his character as a person who feels alone to be out in the world around him. He regularly avoids his family, has little to no friends outside classmates from school, and was always considered a loner to everyone he encountered. He pulls this off perfectly in a few crucial scenes in the movie. The decomposition of Ralston’s character is unmatched to any performance that I’ve seen all year, which is why I’m personally rooting for Franco to win the Oscar.
British director Danny Boyle(Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later) is the driving force for 127 Hours to not only be critically acclaimed (garnering 6 Oscar nominations for the upcoming Oscars in February), but to be both spiritually and emotionally driven with its 94 minute runtime. His fluid direction filled with beautiful cinematography of the landscapes of the Utah desert, stylized editing skills that show off how visionary Boyle is in storytelling (through flashbacks of Ralston’s own life and vision of things to come in his changed life), and with his great collaboration with composer A.R Rahman (up for a Oscar nomination himself), giving Hours a great depth to be seen multiple times outside one viewing.
Hours shows a side to a human character that can overcome the even most impossible scenario in a life or death situation, shows why I loved 127 Hours so much. The limited use of live outside shots to help establish an atmosphere so cluster phobic and grisly that you feel that, with Aaron, we too have an boulder imprinted into our own arm. We may not see it or feel the same way Ralston/Franco felt in both real life and in the making of the film, but the rock holding us down can also reflect struggles in our own lives. Even after losing the arm he would eventually cut off himself in the process of being stuck, Ralston (like ourselves) will also change the way we see things and tend to appreciate the things around us more than we ever did.
I also must add that with also being Oscar nominated for the first time, James Franco is also hosting the 83rd Academy Awards with co-host Anne Hathaway (recently named the future Cat-women for The Dark Knight Rises). I really hope the best for him, as he always seemed to be an actor I regularly disliked watching a movie where he was in it. Here, it completely does a 180 with having some of the most heartbreaking moments captured on film from 2010 alone. His composure, his positivity, and his endurance were the reasons why Ralston was able to get out of the crevice in the first place. And if Franco does turn out the victory, he would be the first ever host of the Oscars to win an award that same night as a nominee in a category. My best of wishes to Franco (and to Boyle), as you two gentlemen, performed phenomenally in Hours.
The final minutes of 127 Hours may be hard to watch for some viewers (myself included), as it’s a test of pure motivation and mind-set of going through the act of survival. We are prepared to go through the fate Ralston had contemplated with his character the entire film from the first minute he landed in the situation at hand. Ralston is as relatable in his own situation as this “average-Joe” that we notably root for, even when he shows shades of cracking at any moment. It’s in this trust we give to both Franco and Boyle in delivering us an unforgettable film for us to view and talk about in years to come. Even after all is said and done (and <span>a lot</span> is done), Hours lingers in our minds like the rock that still lingers with Ralston’s being today: horrible in the way of taking something away, but relieving in how it gave so much good back.