Danny Boyle follows up his 2009 Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire with a remarkably entertaining and gut-wrenching, real-life story about the resiliency of the human body and mind.
This story of course, is the Oscar nominated 127 Hours based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by the real-life rock climber Aron Ralston, who had to amputate his arm after it got stuck beneath a boulder.
The film starts off with Ralston (James Franco) getting ready to go on an outdoor excursion. Soon we are in his car as he drives to the Utah desert. The next day he comes across two cute young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) who seem to be lost. He offers to be their guide. He shows them a good time in an underground water quarry. They then go their separate ways. Soon Ralston comes across a crevice and decides to climb down, but the boulder he is using for support gets dislodged and Ralston falls, the boulder traps his arm. This is when the story gets interesting. He must figure out a way to get out of this predicament.
Franco personifies Ralston in a masterful performance. He plays Ralston first as a charming, confident rock climber and outdoorsman who believes in his abilities and enjoys taking risks. Then as a desperate man who almost gives up on himself, but ultimately has the strength and determination to survive.
One of the best and most poignant scenes of the film is when Ralston puts on a morning show, where he voices a radio host, himself, and another climber stuck in a similar situation in another canyon. This scene provides the viewer with a few laughs, but quickly turns disheartening as he summarizes his plight.
Boyle and his cinematographer really do an excellent job at giving the viewer a sense Ralston’s isolation by first keeping us within the tight confines of the crevice and then showing off the beauty of the vast Utah wilderness.
Accompanying the story is A.R. Rahman’s enthralling Oscar nominated musical score, which goes along perfectly with the uplifting theme of the film.
This film will leave you speechless, not only due to breathtaking visuals and intriguing story, but largely due to Franco’s captivating and brilliant performance.