Review – 127 Hours

Sitting down to write this review of ‘127 Hours’ is quite difficult because this film has managed to accurately capture the fighting spirit of one human being in a raw and honest way. The reason this review is so difficult to write is because ‘127 Hours’ really makes you question the value of your own life, how you live it and the lengths you’d go to preserve it. Staring death in the face could you muster up the courage to cut off your own arm? Real life adventurer Aron Ralston decided to give death the finger, well a whole lot more than the finger, his entire forearm! Ralston’s amazing story of survival plays out in ‘127 Hours’ when Aron Rolston (James Franco) becomes trapped under a boulder while exploring canyons alone in Utah and has to resort to extreme measures to survive. ‘127 Hours’ is a very powerful film that delivers an emotional punch thanks to superb direction, a great soundtrack, beautiful cinematography and an excellent performance from James Franco.

James Franco holds ‘127 Hours’ together with a powerful performance. Franco delivers the right mix of ego and vulnerability in his portrayal of Aron Rolston, this essentially is a one man show and you feel like you’re right there with the character the whole time and the emotional journey is epic. The real life Aron Rolston has admitted that Franco’s portrayal was hard to deal with because it was so accurate. At a Q&A session at the Toronto International Film Festival Rolston broke down after he was asked about the performance; it’s that good.

Behind the camera is writer/director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) who expertly pieces the story together. Boyle faced big challenges making this film 1. We all know how it ends 2. A majority of the film takes place in one location with one actor which has the potential to be boring. Boyle was clever to realise this film isn’t just about a guy who just cuts off his arm to survive, it’s the emotional journey of a person that has to embrace his failings as a human being and fight for not only his life but a second chance at living. The character of Aron Rolston is very overconfident and selfish, facing death Rolston has a chance to reflect on life and it’s not all good news especially when it comes to family and friends. Boyle finds clever and creative ways to explore the joys and failings of Rolston’s life as he reflects. Boyle uses flashbacks, dream sequences and clever use of a video camera to let the story play out. The real life Aron Rolston had a video camera with him while he was stuck and filmed a lot of footage that Boyle was lucky to see and recreate in ‘127 Hours’ adding a realistic portrayal of the harrowing experience. Boyle makes everything as realistic as possible especially the sequence when Rolston cuts off his arm. It’s an intense experience that on the surface is not as gory as you would imagine, it’s the expert use of sound effects and music that put you on edge and shows that Boyle is a very clever filmmaker. Credit must also go to the brilliant cinematography work of Enrique Chedaik and Anthony Mantle, the scenery is beautifully shot with so many rich earthy colours hogging the scenery.

Being a Danny Boyle film you can only expect great music and that’s what you get. Boyle has collaborated once again with A. R Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced a great score. The soundtrack is a ripper with ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers as a highlight and a bunch of other bands that sound great (I’ve just never heard of any them).
‘127 Hours’ is an inspiring film that does justice to the real life Aron Rolston who was thrown one of the biggest curveballs in life. While not all of us are going to be trapped under a boulder anytime soon we all have similar challenges in life that hold us back from living. ‘127 Hours’ challenges us to realise our potential and never take the important things in life for granted.


The Popcorn Junkie