Consider what a miracle “127 Hours” is.
Based on the true story, it is a ridiculously entertaining film that works on the smallest of scales. It’s essentially a one-man show. The one man being James Franco as the adventurous young man Aron Ralston, and the show being his struggle to free himself when a boulder pins his arm in an isolated Utah canyon. Where some movies operate on a scale with dozens of varying sets and characters to tell their story, “127 Hours” almost entirely takes place in one little crevice with one character. That it never bores us and often captivates us is the miracle.
The director, Danny Boyle (helmer of “Trainspotting” and recent Oscar darling) is famous for his kinetic visual style, and the way he applies that style to whatever story he’s tackling. And so it’s no surprise that his direction for “127 Hours” is absolutely remarkable. His great accomplishment is the way that he displays through visceral technique what Aron is going through. Boyle uses cinematography and sound effects to achieve a feeling that other directors would simply explain with dialogue. He evokes more emotion with the tilt of a camera angle than most movies do in their entire running time. To put it plain and simple, the sheer style and vibe that this movie carries is invigorating, fresh, and exciting.
Franco’s performance as Aron Ralston is a stunner. He’s in virtually every frame of the film, so its safe to say the movie makes-or-breaks on his work. But after years of promising work in stuff like “Milk” and “Pineapple Express”, “127 Hours” is his grand delivery, on the long-held promise of an amazing actor. He goes through the full emotional spectrum in this film, from upbeat to frustrated to lethargic to awed to determined in a matter of seconds. He’s brilliant, and is cemented here as a force to be reckoned with.
Another thing of note is the dazzling cinematography. They capture the vistas of isolated Utah with the beauty and clarity of a nature documentary, and the landscape feels like a character in and of itself. A.R. Rahman’s guitar-and-percussion-oriented score provides a propulsive, energetic beat for the film to follow.
“127 Hours” is an emotional and visceral dazzler. The film stirred feelings in me that I haven’t felt at the movies in ages, provoked thoughts that I hadn’t considered. The story behind it is a testament to the human spirit, and the film a testament to pure movie magic. A