Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images, 95 minutes
Intense, enthralling, inspiring "127 Hours" is a must-see
“127 Hours” will make you think twice about hiking in the mountains alone. Telling the incredible true story of hiker Aron Ralston, who became trapped on the side of a mountain for 5 days in Utah and had to amputate his arm. Gut-wrenchingly intense, moving and even peppered with some humorous moments, “127 Hours” is one of the year’s unforgettable cinematic experiences. “Slumdog Millionaire” director Danny Boyle skillfully brings Ralston’s story to life and is sublimely performed in essentially a one-man show by James Franco (“Eat Pray Love”).In spring of 2003, the unmarried Ralston (Franco) goes hiking in some Utah mountains alone. An experienced hiker and guide, Ralston knows the area and how to navigate it. He slips and falls in the crack on the side of a mountain and becomes trapped as a huge rock lands on his arm. He somehow survives for 5 days but believing he will be left to die there, sees his life pass in front of him. Determined to live, Ralston eventually amputates his arm and hikes back to civilization.
Amazingly gripping, entertaining and enthralling, “127 Hours” is an extraordinary film based on an extraordinary, simple story, thanks to the masterful direction and writing of Oscar-winner Boyle and the commanding presence of Franco, in an Oscar-worthy performance. The film’s most-talked about scene, the realistic and detailed amputation scene, is well-handled and nothing short of amazing when you think that Boyle shot it in one take; it’s bloody but not overdone and surprisingly brief.
Equally impressive is the production itself, stunningly photographed, peppered with humor and some memorable music, including the original score from A.R. Rahman, who worked with Boyle on “Slumdog Millionaire.” The opening scene with jaunty, energetic music, takes you right into the flow of the situation. Listen closely and you’ll also hear songs from Bill Withers and even Edith Piaf that work well as Ralston sees his life in flashback. Amber Tamblyn, Treat Williams, Kate Mara and Kate Burton also appear briefly as family and friends, but in a story about Ralston, Franco’s the most memorable one here.
The touching, inspirational coda to the story shows the real-life Ralston surrounded by his new wife, baby and family members as the man who once said he “cut off his arm and gained his life back.” This could’ve been sentimentalized in a maudlin movie-the-week way, but Boyle and Franco refuse to that happen, and “127 Hours” rises to the occasion to become one of the most intense but moving films of the year. A definite must-see.