Movie Review #689
This review is dedicated to anybody who likes the phrase “between a rock and a hard place.” I use the idiom a lot, but I never thought that it would mean “in a situation that requires drinking my own waste product, using a video camera to lower my self-esteem, and amputating my arm.” Losing sleep, all right.
Fox Searchlight Pictures presents…
…in association with Everest Entertainment…
Made in Association with: Dune Entertainment
Studio: Pathé – Cloud Eight – Decibel Films – Darlow Smithson – Big Screen Productions
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation – Fox Searchlight Pictures
Country: USA – UK
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Danny Boyle. Produced by Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, and John Smithson. Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy. Based on the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston.
Rated R by the MPAA – profanity, infrequent disturbing content, infrequent violence. Runs 1 hour, 34 minutes. TIFF premiere on September 12, 2010. Premiered at Telluride Film Festival on September 4, 2010; at Mill Valley Film Festival on October 16, 2010; at Austin Film Festival on October 26, 2010; at London Film Festival on October 28, 2010; and at Denver International Film Festival on November 5, 2010. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on November 5, 2010. Limited release in the USA on November 12, 2010. Wide release in the UK on January 7, 2011; and in the USA on January 28, 2011.
“127 Hours” is a realistic adaptation of Aron Ralston’s memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The latter title is perfect as a seven-word descriptor of the story. Ralston is hiking for fun one day, when he slips at a canyon, falls through, and finds his dominant arm caught between a boulder and the canyon wall. Not much really happens in the story, but it truly is a gripping drama, harrowing, perilously depicted, with all 127 hours (that’s five days, plus an extra seven hours) of this predicament encapsulated neatly into ninety minutes.
The gears behind this movie is James Franco’s performance. His depiction of the hero makes for an amazing true story and a rather poignant tale. He’s downright transformative and sincere in his portrayal, and he depicts the increasing lack of self-esteem most painfully. Okay I guess that’s not exactly painful to watch, once you get to three minutes of Ralston sawing off his arm with a pocketknife.
This is Danny Boyle’s movie. I didn’t enjoy his “Trainspotting” nearly as much as “Slumdog Millionaire”, which just goes to show that even in his weakest efforts, Boyle is a master of style. “127 Hours” is as stylish as most independent dramas might get. Not only are titles well designed, the entire title sequence is oustandingly designed, shot, and edited. The use of split-screen is incredible. The set design looks a bit like a set, though I could very well be dead wrong; no harm, no foul. The cinematography, conducted by Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle, is entirely convincing. Documentary look, jump cuts to impressively explicate the passing time. What really stands out, despite all of this, is A. R. Rahman’s musical score. Simply put, this is what makes the movie so much tenser.
The story earns points on an emotional level for its believable display of cabin fever. Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle wrote the screenplay as the perfect adaptation of Ralston’s memoir. My one problem with the book was that it didn’t feel like a series of plans to get out of the situation; it felt like a mess of flashbacks, with a couple of interludes in which we found escape plans. The flashbacks (and sometimes just visions) will be seen as hallucinations in “127 Hours”. They grow into more depressed, tragic visions as the story progresses, but what makes them so saddening to begin with is the reality that these are nothing more than visions in Ralston’s head. They’re one of few things that can distract Ralston from the fact that he could, potentially, die before escaping the canyon. We’re given ninety minutes to ponder and sympathize with his character. Apparently, and ever so surprisingly, that’s long enough.
The World Is Not Enough
127 HOURS IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Hit the jump for an announcement regarding the 2nd Annual Cinemaniac Awards:
American Hustle has won 2014’s Cinemaniac Award for Best Sounds of the Year, an award that combines music, sound mixing, and sound editing. The movie has outstanding instances of the latter two, but if anything, it’s won for its irresistible ’70s soundtrack. If we can leave it at our favorite music cue, we’d recommend seeing the movie just for Jennifer Lawrence singing along to “Live and Let Die”. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement for Best Looks of the Year.