127 Hours (2010)
Director: Danny Boyle Runtime: 1hr 34 mins Rated: R
Studio: Pathé/Searchlight Pictures Screenwriter: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Inspired by: Aron Ralston’s novel “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”
Cast: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clémence Poésy
127 Hours is a short film that aims to draw in audiences based on the appeal of its leading man and that it’s based on real-life events. In 2003 real-life Aron Ralston set out on a day trip in Utah’s Blue John Canyon and suffered an accident that pins his arm in-between the rock face and a boulder. Ralston records what he believes to be his last days explaining how he ended up in the state he was, for whoever finds him one day.
Since this film is based on Ralston’s book about the incident, he lives. That’s not a spoiler. It would be if someone else wrote a book about Ralston’s accident.
It isn’t easy to create a film where you have, essentially, one character. This character has what amounts to an exterior monologue the entire time. This dialogue conundrum is layered with the setting. The majority of the film centers around Aron (Franco), who’s stuck in a highly isolated canyon crack. From a cinematography perspective, Danny Boyle did an excellent job showing the landscape and how it related to Aron during the day and while he was trapped. It helped to cement the seriousness of his predicament for the audience. The director also recreates the real Ralston’s actual camera log. In doing so, we have a performance by Franco that is a one-man show. He has to physically work in a minimal space, on a rope, where he mentally and emotionally swings like a pendulum as time progresses.
While Franco brings much-needed energy to this story and its underlying messages and themes, it would have been better as a TV movie. Today this type of film is more likely to be picked up by a company like Netflix, which didn’t start original content till 2013. 127 Hours isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s the kind of film you only watch once, in school on substitute day, or as an airplane film. Sadly, the trailer for the film gives too much away, leaving little to be surprised by.
While the messages and lessons of the film to the audience are important, so no one has a Ralston-like “oops” moment, 127 Hours is forgettable as a movie. Forgettable isn’t worth a watchlist spot.
-A Pen Lady