New blog contributor invisiblekid’s film review of Danny Boyle’s thriller 127 Hours, starring James Franco.
Right, lets get one thing straight right now. This is NOT the feel good movie that many have labeled it. Even Danny Boyle said it was a feel good film. Sorry but it’s just not. Just as Boyle’s last film Slumdog Millionaire was incorrectly called “The feel good movie of the year”, that wasn’t true either. Both are grueling films where bad things happen, but just happen to have a happy ending. Making a film where by at the end, not everyone you’ve seen dies does not mean it’s a feel good film.
In this instance, it’s slightly more clouded especially with it happening for real back in 2003. Escaping death by hacking your arm off (not a spoiler obviously) and becoming a better person for it, it only makes it a feel good event for Aron Ralston (played by James Franco).
There isn’t much for the viewer to take home and change their lives with. Aron started the film as a complete cocky twat and experienced a million even billion to one accident. During his ordeal, he realised this and has made amends. Not much for us to feel good about ourselves.
But onto the film, which frankly is miles better than I have made it sound so far. Aron Ralston is an adrenaline junkie and has all the trimmings that come with it. Cockiness and skills to make him think he’s unstoppable, taking massive risks, treats his girlfriend (now ex) badly and doesn’t return his mums calls.
During a trip to the Blue John Canyon, he tries to beat the recommended time for the climb. During which, he finds a couple of lost girls and in his own typical high risk lifestyle, show them a short cut to their destination. Which has to be said is very cool.
Later, they part ways, and until the end, the only people we see are in his mind.
A bizarre incident leaves him trapped with one arm jammed between, well and rock and a hard place, that being the title of the book. With only: a few bits of rock climbing equipment, a video camera, a still camera and a bottle of water, he tries to free himself from his predicament.
From here on, it’s just us watching him as he records his feelings and see his slow deterioration including: hallucinations, premonitions, and flashbacks all via Danny’s masterful camera work.
It’s very claustrophobic for all involved, including us the viewer, so brilliantly is the stage set made and the closeness in which it is filmed. The flashbacks of course bolster the image we get of Aron, but not in a way that it’s too obvious in what it’s doing. They are just of him remembering the good times and the life he had the in parts, wasted.
The close camera work also shows us the why the film works so well, actor James Franco. His facial expressions will be used a training tool for many years to come. It’s staggering how he and Boyle made a film, with the most talked about finale, that we all know how it ends, into something so gripping and real.
The second Aron is trapped; you can see in James’ eyes that he already knows that it’s too late to do anything. We see him desperately try everything else in seconds that follow. But then there’s calmness and organisation as he calculates his next move instead.
Despite the stillness and depression, Danny’s makes everything flow with such a pulse with fancy camera work. Following the water flow through Aron’s water bag and bottle. The vertical camera lifts from way down deep in ravine where Aron is trapped, to way up high in the sky. It could be seen as silly and a ‘bit Michael Bay’! But it in fact all adds to the slowly building tension. It reminds me of Breaking Bad in the way that you know your getting tense, but you really have no clue just how tense until it’s released.
The release ironically, comes from Aron’s err… release. So while its no spoiler as to how, there’s one point, or two actually (you’ll know when you see it), which got me, wincing like a schoolgirl. These I will not describe, as I feel it will spoil it for any that have not watched it. But my god, it was painful to watch.
Utterly brilliant work indeed, and you can see why some of the faint hearted that watch it, did, well, faint.
Just like Chris Nolan’s Inception, this film was only funded due to the director’s previous massive hits. Given the subject matter though, I have to hand it to Danny Boyle. Thinking of a truly bizarre, complicated, massive set piece film as in the case of Inception is one thing. But to see how to make a riveting film from such a static event and be so passionate about it is shear brilliance. Just like the film.