Review: 127 Hours


Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by:Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn
Released: February 10, 2011
Grade: A

When I first heard that Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) was bringing the real life tale of Aron Ralston to the screen, I was sceptical.  Most of us know the story.  A guy goes hiking in Utah and gets him arm stuck under boulder.  After being trapped for more than 5 days, he made the decision to cut off his arm with a knife.  He lived to tell the tale and published his story in a book aptly entitled “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”.

The reason for my early doubts was that I couldn’t fathom how Boyle could drag this out into a full length feature film.  Wouldn’t everyone just be waiting for the scene where he cuts his arm off?  Given the film centres on just one actor in one small location, what could you include in the first hour to keep the audience’s attention?

I should have had faith in Danny Boyle because now having seen 127 Hours, I can say it’s one of the most interesting films of the year.  It gives you an amazingly intimate look at what Ralston went through, both physically and mentally.  It wasn’t like he was just sitting there and hoping to be rescued.  A lot happened during those 5 days.

I don’t want to say too much more regarding the plot because otherwise I’d be spoiling the movie for you.  I’d rather spend my time praising the gutsy performance of James Franco.  I’ve been thinking about it since I saw the film but I can’t picture any other actor in the role.  Franco is amazingly good and deserves what is his first Academy Award nomination.

When we first meet Aron, we see him as a light-hearted, adventurous guy.  Aron tries to stay upbeat whilst trapped under the boulder but as the days pass, the realisation starts to sink in.  You can see it in Franco’s eyes and you hear it in his depleting voice.

You might also notice the weight loss.  Aron shed close to 20 kilograms during his ordeal due to a lack of food and water.  Franco lost a lot of weight himself in preparation for the role.  The only reason his face looks healthier, more rounded in the early scenes is due to the work of the film’s talented make up artists.

Despite picking up at Oscar nomination for best picture, 127 Hours has been struggling at the box-office.  The general consensus is that people are avoiding the film because of “that” scene – the moment where Aron has to cut his arm off.  If you have similar concerns, please let me allay your fears.  It’s tastefully done and not drawn out.  A friend of mine summed it up best when he said “I've never been so happy to see someone cut his arm off.”  I felt the same way.  By that point of the film, you’ll be willing him to do it.