Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Based on “Between A Rock and A Hard Place,” a survival memoir written by real-life mountaineer and adventurer Aron Ralston, 127 Hours is an energetic, free-spirited ode to the a man’s will to live. Much like its protagonist, Danny Boyle imbues this film adaptation with a frenzied nerve and dramatic kineticism that’s liberates instead of constricts.
Boyle is a guy that made the grime and poverty of Delhi’s slums look like a Technicolor M.I.A.-soundtracked rollercoaster ride in Slumdog Millionaire, so infusing Aron’s harrowing account with a little bit of inspiration and flourish shouldn’t be too difficult. James Franco’s freewheeling physicality makes him absolutely captivating here as Aron, a skilled but reckless climber who famously fell in Blue John Canyon, Utah and got his right arm pinned under a massive boulder.
Aron is a little ball of energy with an enthusiasm that’s wraps you up in his adrenaline rush. Early on he meets fellow hikers Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), two pretty girls whom he charms with his gung-ho spirit and knowledge of his outdoor terrain. It’s this careless exuberance that gets him into his narrow death-trap but it’s also due to that same zest for life that he manages to get out alive.
To reveal that Aron survived isn’t much of a spoiler (he did write the book that inspired this movie after all), so Boyle wisely doesn’t ratchet up the tension too much on that front like Rodrigo Cortés’ Buried did. Instead of committing to the direness and claustrophobia of Aron’s predicament, the film expands and relieves with hallucinations and flashbacks.
Half-mad from pain, thirst and exhaustion, Aron begins to imagine family, friends and ex-lovers. He reminisces about regrets such as about a former girlfriend whom he shouldn’t have let go of, a sister whose wedding he’ll miss and a mother whom he’s neglected far too often. You get the sense that these dying lamentations cause Aron more anguish than a crushed arm ever could.
His camcorder becomes his only confessional and companion - much like Wilson the volleyball in Cast Away. Aron uses it to journal his day-today thoughts and at one point even hosts his own cheery morning television show with himself as the host and guest (accompanied by imagined audience applause) where he recounts all the stupid mistakes that led up to this point.
Unlike Christopher McCandless from Sean Penn’s Into The Wild, Aron isn’t a recluse who shuns civilisation and therefore his misadventureis infinitely more forgivable. With Christopher, you pity his circumstance and feel for him but at the same time, he had it coming to an extent. Aron on the other hand is bursting with charm, ingenuity and a palpable desire to return to loved ones.
Even under extreme stress and duress, Aron keeps his wits about, conjuring up clever devices such as pulleys in order to save himself. His final solution, as gruesome to watch as it is, is brilliant and leaves viewers awe-struck. Much credit must given to an invigorated Franco for keeping us glued to what is essentially a one-man show.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini is 24-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for MetroWize Asia.
Hidzir was the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.
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