Capone says Danny Boyle's great 127 HOURS is the complete mind-fuck movie of the year!!!
Published at: Nov. 12, 2010, 1:02 a.m. CST by Capone
Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
This is a film that is so perfect as both a visceral and sensory experience that it's almost impossible to say anything more than, if you think you can handle watching a guy cutting his own arm off to escape certain death, you're going to love Danny Boyle's magnificent 127 HOURS. Condensed to a 90-minute package of unwasted moment, Boyle hands us not only one of the greatest performances of the year--James Franco as real-life mountain climber/guide Aron Ralston--but also something that goes far beyond a simple retelling the facts of Ralston's accident that had him pinned by his arm in crevice well out of the reach of any potential rescue.
Boyle doesn't deny us the highlights of Ralston's almost unbelievable story (adapted from his book by Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, who wrote Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIREl as well as THE FULL MONTY), such as his survivalist skills kicking into high gear. As strange as it may sound, if this accident was going to happen to anyone, it's a good thing it was Ralston, who knew how to conserve the water he had, create a system of straps to make it possible for him to sleep, and ultimately have the fortitude to do what it took to free himself from certain peril. But Boyle is perhaps even more interested in Ralston's mental collapse due to lack of water and looking death straight in the eyes. The filmmakers recreate some of Ralston's hallucinations of the real (his family, an old girlfriend, two girls he met just before the accident) and the ridiculous (Scooby Doo, a rain-triggered flash flood that helps him escape, but not really).
Ralston also did a somewhat thorough job documenting his own dilemma thanks to a video camera and digital camera he brought with him, on which he recorded his surroundings and personal message to his family that he believed would only be seen after his death. I've certainly seen Franco do some fairly remarkable things in his acting career, but nothing quite prepared me for the lengths he goes to to capture this experience. There's a purely fictional moment when Ralston creates both sides of a radio interview with himself that should be shown in acting classes around the world.
Perhaps better than any other filmmaker working today, Boyle (28 DAYS LATER, SUNSHINE, TRAINSPOTTING) had the remarkable ability to to harness the chaos of turmoil, to make it something we can taste and smell and certainly hear. In 127 HOURS, the moment I realized just how deep this experience went was during the arm-cutting sequence, which isn't as gory or bloody as you might believe. However, when Ralston hits an exposed nerve deep in his arm and experiences pure pain, Boyle punctuates that moment with piercing guitar feedback, which is, of course, exactly what genuine pain sounds like. It fills the ears and makes them ring for hours. And don't even get me started on trying to wrap my head around what Ralston had to do to himself just prior to cutting his arm so that he was able to preserve his elbow.
People have told me that they love Franco dearly but refuse to see 127 HOURS because they don't think they can handle it (maybe they've heard the stories about fainting audience members at festival screenings). To paraphrase Jason Segel, gently remove your tampon and go see this movie (I dare Fox Searchlight to put that quote on their posters). Don't tell me good films mean something to you and then skip one of the best things you'll see this year. This is not a horror film, and the scene that you're so damn worried about only lasts a couple of minutes and is followed by some of the most glorious and celebratory scenes you'll see all year.
The movie is meant to shake you up, but not because of the gore. It's the total experience. Both Boyle and Franco are master craftsmen who are giving us the best work of their career, and they put us deep inside Aron Ralston's fractured mind and force us to wonder how we would have held up under circumstances. I think I would have lasted about five minutes. 127 HOURS is meant to blow your mind, and give you an experience you so rarely get these days in a movie theater. Without resorting to 3D or vibrating seats or whatever, Danny Boyle puts us in that hole in the earth. The escape route is clear and yet entirely unreachable. I hope if I ever find myself in a similar situation, James Franco is right there next to me showing me where to put the knife for that first cut. You will squirm, but you will be a better person for having seen 127 HOURS.
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