Wednesday, 5 January 2011

127 Hours - Cineworld, Edinburgh - 5/1/11

For those who don't know...

Aron Ralston was a 28 year old adrenalin junkie who, in 2003, decided to head off to Moab, Utah, for a spot of canyoneering.  During that trip he became trapped in a canyon when a rock fell against his right arm.  127 hours later he was free...but only after using his penknife to cut off the trapped arm.

127 hours.

Five days.



Without food or water.


In pain.

What would you do to get yourself out of a situation like that?

Would you be able to break your own arm and then hack through the skin, muscle and tissue in order to set yourself free?

I don't think I would.

I think I would have given up the ghost and accepted my fate.

That Ralston didn't says as much about his strength of character as his foolish choices that led to his predicament do about the type of person he was previously...selfish and, one could argue, more than a little stupid.

Director Danny Boyle manages to make good use of several familiar motifs from his other works in telling the tale of one man in a hole.  Water, hallucination, split screen are all employed to allow Boyle to create something universal and inspiring out of source material that could, quite easily, be described as confined and horrific.

James Franco plays Ralston and, thanks to the video messages that he recorded during his ordeal, we get an accurate portrait of the man.  More importantly though Franco manages to take us deep inside the mind of the man...the fear, frustration and fatal nature of the situation is all disquietingly real.  It's a terrific performance from an actor who, until now, has been best known as the son of the Green Goblin in the Spiderman franchise.

Much of the discussion around "127 Hours" centres around "that" scene.  Tales of people running screaming and shrieking from the cinema are, I think, the work of over-eager publicists; the same sort of people who billed "Slumdog Millionaire" as the "feel good movie of the year".  The scene is bloody and achingly real but it isn't something that would look out of place in an episode of "Casualty"!

A quieter and more intimate film than "Slumdog" this is, nevertheless, classic Danny Boyle; awkward young men who find themselves in difficult and uncomfortable situations but who ultimately find some sort of redemption or's there in "Shallow Grave", it's there in "Trainspotting" and "The Beach" and again in "Slumdog".  This time the isolation of the central player is reflected in his physical surroundings as well as in his mental and emotional state.

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