127 Hours (2010)

Let’s be honest, it takes a certain presence to hold a viewers attention. Especially if said presence is the only presence on screen for 90 minutes of presence. There’s one too many presences there… Presences? Preseni? I’m drifting.

The point is, if glorified Chippendale furniture, Ryan Reynolds, managed it in claustrophobic nail biter, Buried, then anyone can do it. So, where does that leave Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours; A 90 minute biopic of Aron Ralston (James Franco) whose weekend away comes to a crashing halt after his right arm is trapped and crushed underneath a giant boulder like so much butter under a cow.

Okay, for those of you who have stumbled here via Google, you probably want to know one thing and one thing only, so I’ll make it quick. Yes, you get to see him chop his arm off. Okay, thanks for reading. Enjoy the film and be sure to check out the rest of the site.

For the rest of you sticking around, let’s move on. To start off, I wasn’t looking forward to 127. Despite its awards and incessant use of Florence and the Machine, Slumdog Millionaire left me cold. For all its flashy camera angles it came out feeling like an ITV drama of the week

So, with trepidation, I settled to watch 127, at least hoping MIA wasn’t on the soundtrack. What strikes you about the film is that it doesn’t shy away from suggesting that for all intents and purposes, Ralston was bit of a pillock. After illustrating that he goes off alone without telling anyone, we bear witness to him taking pictures and videoing himself cycling. Ooh look at me! I’m cycling. Haha! I’m so awesome. So far, so massive ego. However, it all works to Boyle’s plan and from the minute Ralston’s accident happens, we not only watch a man struggle to survive, but we also witness the complete deconstruction of someone’s personality ready for rebuilding into something slightly less, well, wanky.

Franco handles all this with aplomb. Going from git to pitiful extremely convincingly. Lets be honest (for the second time in this review), get the characterization wrong and the audience will gleefully cheer for the blunt knife to come sooner. A particular masterful scene shows Franco interviewing himself during a fake radio phone-in. A man’s ego and paranoia coming head to head and brilliantly done.

Boyle’s direction and screenplay ensure that it’s not laboured by overlong flashbacks. They almost finish as soon as they start (Look a big rock!). No real context is given and the viewer is left to ponder on their meaning.

Like its spiritual predecessor, Buried127 bristles with tension even when very little is happening.

I did have some issues. For example, the ending seemed almost trite. Whether knowingly or unknowingly or unknowingly knowingly, it puts Ralston on a hero pedestal which some could argue is not entirely warranted. That said, it’s a bold movie with beautiful camerawork and a top rate cast (member).

You could say for all its faults, it’s armless…





  1. First, I hope the real “Ralston” somehow reads this and is slightly gratified that someone thinks of him as being slightly less “wanky” because he had to cut his arm off. Secondly, I haven’t forgiven Franco for the Oscars yet so I’ll have to wait to objectively watch this.

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