Star cast: James Franco, Kate Mara.
Plot: A trapped mountaineer’s struggle for survival.
What’s good: James Franco’s performance; A.R. Rahman’s background score; the camerawork .
What’s bad: For some viewers, a few gruesome scenes.
Verdict: 127 Hours is a good film but don’t expect the regular entertainment when you enter the theatres.
Loo break: During the gory scenes. But, unfortunately they are the most crucial in the film.
Watch or Not?: If you have the stomach for a true story about a lone, desperate man’s attempt to survive in very difficult circumstances, go for it.
Fox Searchlight Pictures’ 127 Hours is the true story of mountaineer Aron Ralston. It portrays his remarkable adventure, where he had to save himself after a fallen boulder crashed on his arm and trapped him in an isolated canyon in Utah, USA.
One fine Saturday morning, Aron Ralston (James Franco) sets off for the Big John canyon in his car. He leaves the car and then covers some more distance on his bicycle, after which he starts moving towards the steep edge of the canyon on foot. On the way, he meets two girls, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), who are lost in the canyon. All three have a good time together when Aron, who knows the canyon like the back of his hand, takes the girls to an underground fresh water pond.
Soon, the girls take Aron’s leave but not before inviting him to a party at their home on Sunday. Aron, the expert mountaineer that he is, moves towards the end of the canyon, deftly manoeuvering among small crevices between rocks, and jumping over boulders. However, while moving through a crevice, Aron dislodges a boulder and his forearm gets stuck between the boulder and the wall of the canyon.
Over the next five days, Aron tries hard to free himself by trying to move the boulder by making a pulley, by using physical force, by calling out for help and even by trying to chip off the part of the boulder where his hand is stuck. To his horror, Aron realises that he didn’t tell anyone about his trip to the Big John canyon, so that even if his family or friends came looking for him, they wouldn’t know where to look. This, plus the dwindling water and food supplies, makes him even more desperate to free his hand and reach back to civilisation. Aron starts having hallucinations because of the dearth of water and food and the biting cold in the night: he sees and talks to his parents, his co-workers, and Kristi, whom he had met at the canyon. He uses a video camera he has to record his last message to his mother and father. After becoming delirious, he even records a stand-up comedian act.
Desperate as his situation is, Aron does not lose hope. He recalls his childhood, his time with his parents and young sister, and fantasises about loving Kristi. In spite of his weakness due to hunger and thirst, Aron decides to take an extreme step to free his hand. Does he succeed in what he is doing? Does he make it back to civilisation? What is Aron’s life after this gruesome incident? The rest of the film answers these questions.
Story and Screenplay
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay, based on the novel, Between A Rock and A Hard Place, by Aron Ralston, is very good. Given the fact that most of the film involves only one character, Aron, stuck in a desolate place, and he can’t do much about it, the writers have taken enough care to introduce the element of action in the screenplay. Each of Aron’s efforts to get out of the place is well-written and photographed. As a result, the audience yearns for Aron’s success. Even the parts where Aron is daydreaming are well-written and keep the audience engaged. The writers succeed in holding the audience’s attention throughout the drama, and therein lies their success. However, the hallucinations and some of the things Aron does may not really be appreciated by the Indian audience.
The climax is one that many will be aware of but the way in which it is brought across shocks the viewer. However, many in the audience will squirm in their seats during the climax. Also, although the story of 127 Hours is about a lone man’s courage, and is, therefore, inspiring, a few viewers might find it too unnerving an adventure.
James Franco lives the character of Aron, and manages to make the real-life incident believable. His physical transformation over the five days when he is stuck in the canyon is wonderful. Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn and Sean Bott (as Aron’s friend) do well in their extremely short roles.
Direction, Cinematography and Music
Director Danny Boyle manages to keep the film on an even keel by maintaining a swift pace in what might otherwise have been an excruciatingly staid story. The cinematography, by Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle, is breathtakingly beautiful (especially while capturing the canyon’s vastness) and frugal (while capturing the narrow crevice in which Aron is stuck). John Harris’ slick editing is commendable. A.R. Rahman’s background score is the life of the film. It is difficult to imagine many of the film’s crucial scenes without Rahman’s background score. The film’s title sequence, with a peppy Rahman number, is also a visual delight.
The Last Word
All in all, 127 Hours is an engaging story told well. However, the Indian masses will not take too kindly to the film.