127 Hours * * * 1/2


Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy.
Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clemence Poesy, Kate Burton, Lizzy Caplan, Sean A. Bott, Treat Williams.

After bagging a surprising best director Oscar for “Slumdog Millionaire”, Danny Boyle’s next project was always going to gather some anticipation. Wisely, Boyle didn’t go for anything too big but he could maybe have set his sights just a little higher than this.

Based on the true story of professional adventurer Aron Ralston (James Franco) who, while hiking in the mountains of Utah, falls into a crevice, where his right arm is crushed and trapped by a boulder. Faced with impending death, Ralston slowly realises he needs to make some difficult choices.

During our introduction to Ralston, riding through the desert on a bicycle, there is no mistaking that he is a thrill seeker with infectious enthusiasm and Boyle’s kinetic, energised direction does well to capture this. It has the same vibrancy shown in “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire” and the same eye for the landscape as “The Beach”. Using a mixture of Aron’s video diaries and his fantasies and memories we live through the daily torment and ordeal with him, as well as hallucinations and desperation taking hold. Again, good narrative devices used by Boyle. Franco puts in a good one man show, going through a mixture of emotions; from shock through anger and disillusionment to the eventual acceptance of his predicament. A remarkable true story of one mans determination to survive at any cost and Boyle does well to keep the film flowing despite it being contained in the one place for an hour and a half. However, as much as this is impressively done, it’s also somewhat hollow and uneventful. I won’t give anything away but if you’re aware of the story about Ralston, it’s almost like treading water until your told what you already know. This gives it an air of vacuousness and serves no other purpose than being a warning about going out to play by yourself.

This is a film with loads of talent involved. Franco’s performance is captivating and Boyle’s direction is flawless but although I can’t criticise, I also can’t sing too many praises either.

Mark Walker


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