Friday, 18 February 2011

127 Hours Film Review

Based on a true story of climber Aron Ralston who's hand got trapped by a rock in 2003, 127 Hours is directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and stars James Franco (Spiderman series). It has received critical acclaim and since its release, has been nominated for six Academy Awards, eight BAFTAS and three Golden Globes. The sheer strength of this movie encouraged me to see this.


~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
Aron Ralston (James Franco) has a fun filled weekend planned- climbing in the canyons of Utah. But all the fun he's going to have (some crazy mountain biking and swimming with two pretty girls) ends within twenty minutes, when a rock falls and traps his hand against the canyon wall.


The remainder hour and a bit represents the 127 hours (5 days+) in which his hand is stuck- his thought process, mentality and values all flood into his mind as he struggles to free his hand, his eager strive for survival bringing him to extreme lengths to obtain freedom.


The first thing you notice whilst watching this is the cinematography. The split screen action is present from the first second as the film is introduced. Whilst this brings in a documentary style element, it can at time be too crowded and you miss certain things. One thing I did like was how the name of the film only appeared when his hand gets stuck, highlighting the start of Ralston's 127 hours. 

This split screen returns periodically, most notably to show the fractured mentality, the fear and the struggle Ralston goes through as he assesses his situation; this excels as the days progress and he arguably goes crazier by the day.
Set in the dramatic landscape of Utah canyons, the film does not waste any opportunity in showcasing the beauty of the landscape. The beauty of nature is one element which I like about this movie. The scenes of silence as Ralston treks through these beautiful fluid rocks and when his hands touch the surface, it is almost like you are there too. The portrayal of touch through what you see is fascinating. 

Another thing to note with respect to setting is the elemental changes that occur through these five days. Whilst you have sunny bright days, you also get stormy and cold nights. One lovely touch to effects was the depleting temperature icon as he tries to stay warm.


The fact that the plot is so bleak and somewhat depressing is not helped by the fact that the pace is immensely slow. This is slightly uplifted by the upbeat [and quite quirky] music that plays in the background, but this was found mostly at the beginning, leaving the middle rather dull.

I felt the film took too long and dragged the whole thing out too much. The screen time could have been greatly reduced but the footage kept by using more of the split screen mentioned before. Far too often was I bored and looking at other things before the film picked up pace again and recaptured my attention. In this way, I feel the movie would've been much better off as a short film where pace can be slightly more rapid- Boyle described this as an "an action movie with a guy who can't move." To me, this is just a movie with a guy who can't move.

This is pretty much a given for anyone who knows anything about this story but some may complain this is a SPOILER, so skip this paragraph if you don't want to find out how it ends! On day 5, after more hallucinations of his family, his lover Rana (Clémence Poésy) and of his life, he plucks up the courage to amputate his trapped arm in order to free himself. The amputation scene was truly brutal and realistic. I could not watch this as it was just too real. I turned into jelly and I could almost feel the pain in my own arm. This scene is the highlight and climax of the movie as it impacts you the most visually and physically.

The eventual freedom of Aron Ralston is truly inspiring and I am sure many people will enjoy the messages of hope behind it, but to be very honest, I didn't find it very enjoyable. A few distinct scenes did have some entertainment value (flood scene) but most of it was pretty boring and definitely not worth going to the cinema to see.

~~~CAST~~~
James Franco- Aron Ralston
Clémence Poésy- Rana

Also stars Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn and Lizzy Caplan.


James Franco played the part of Aron Ralston extremely well. The emotional extremes he portrayed is great, though I can't get over his constant "stoned" expression, and his teeth- they are almost too perfect it scares me. I think his performance is great and he deserves his Oscar nomination, but doubt he'd win.

It was a lovely surprise to see Clémence Poésy in this movie even in the small parts she played... I remember her from Harry Potter and more recently, Gossip Girl.

~~~~OVERALL~~~
This can be an emotional film and a film that gives a great message of hope to some, but to others, like me, it just didn't work as a movie that was one hour and a half long. Personally, had it been shorter, it would be far more impactual and exciting. It dragged on for too long and I felt bored most of the time.
Cinematically, there are some great elements, such as camera work and effects; the settings were beautiful and the split screen was interesting; shame the plot let this down.

Overall, this isn't a film for me and I wouldn't like to see it again- the squeamish, beware!

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