One word. Wow — but since you want to read a review; I’ll write a little more. There’s a lot to say about Danny Boyle’s latest opus, I’ll do the best I can — but I recommend seeing it to do it justice.
127 Hours is the true life survival story of Aron Rolston, a free spirited man exploring the canyons of Utah. A series of events leads him to getting trapped in a chasm, with his right hand smashed between a boulder and the canyon wall. The movie follows the numerous attempts to escape before ultimately *SPOILER* amputates his own arm to free himself. Like I said, this is a true story. So many already know the outcome of the story, but the build up is where it’s at — and Danny Boyle knows this. Rolston is completely alone with no hope of rescue, he spends 6 days is solitude.
The title role is played by James Franco (Spider-Man, Pineapple Express), who shocks me in this role. Usually he plays the goofy friend, or comic relief. Instead, he is charming and somewhat tortured. He has a troubled past, but this isn’t explain in too much depth. Once inside the chasm, we get to explore every level of emotion. From denial, anger, insanity, hope and finally acceptance. It’s an amazing journey. He also uses a camera as a confessional, we learn more of his past and his relationships. Since the cast consists of 4-5, there isn’t much in terms of supporting characters.
Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine) does an amazing job at highlighting the intensity of the situation. He shows the wheels turning, contemplating every possible scenario before coming to the final conclusion. As with Slumdog, Boyle has found his niche. He showcases the most dire of situations or environments in a truly realistic manner, getting raw and gritty. Boyle owns the camera, he clearly knows exactly what he wants. The beginning of the film is brilliant, he shows the vast; populated world. Millions of people, cars, movement. Once we find Aron exploring the empty yet beautiful canyons; it feels peaceful in contrast. The frantic street life is traded for grandeur, this is ultimately his undoing.
We spend 80% of the film inside the chasm, watching Franco. You would think it would get rather boring, wrong. Me, knowing the outcome of the story was fascinated with the progress. Watching his try to figure out different ways of escape, rationing the little water he has left, the memories he plays in his head to keep sane and the inevitable breakdown are a sight to see. You feel for a moment that you are stuck along with him. The process blew me away.
What I found incredible is the detail. The REAL Aron Rolston actually took photos and videos inside while stuck. Of the surroundings, his crushed arm, himself. These photos match everything exactly, from his outfit, the angles, the equipment he had with him. All exact. I love that Boyle took the time to get it right, instead of changing important details as Hollywood usually does.
What happens in the end? Well many of you will know the outcome, the arm coming off. I cannot write on here and do it justice. Let me just tell you that it is one of the most intense sequences I’ve ever seen, once it begins — it does not let up. Incredibly detailed and vivid, people in out theater walked out, my girlfriend nearly fainted and I sat in amazement. Watching the last resort of a desperate man in a live or die situation felt all to real to me, makes you wonder if I could ever do that — given the circumstances. The scene itself is painful to watch because of the realism, I felt sick to my stomach but loved every second of it.
I am going to admit this, I cried. I cried like a baby. I’ve never cried in a movie, NEVER. But the end of this film was so uplifting and inspiring, I couldn’t hold it back. You can see the human condition in it’s most primal stages, I won’t spoil too much here. The fact that I wept, the fact that we could not stop thinking of the movie (It’s been 4 days) makes me add this movie to my top 10. A very high honor. It is definitely a movie that’s tough to review, you have to see it to get the full effect. Stop reading this review and go now. NOW!