January 18, 2011
In "127 Hours", James Franco plays Aron Ralston, an alpha male rock- climber who got trapped in a crevice in Utah Canyonwoods Park back in April 2003 when a big rock pinned his right hand. I was curious at how director Danny Boyle was able to expound on this limited premise and get awards buzz, so I watched despite my initial lack of interest.
The trapping incident occurs only 15 minutes into the film. From there and the next hour, we get to see Aron talking to himself and to his camera, philosophizing, hallucinating about past and future, as he struggles to survive and figure out how to extricate himself from this hopeless trap. All this, up to the harrowing last 20 minutes when he does finally escape, all graphically and painfully captured on screen.
The spectacular achievement in this film is the beautiful cinematography, both sweeping and intimate. The camera work, the composition, lighting and the angles were fantastic. The scenery of the vast canyons, the rolling clouds, the flash flood, the creeping sunbeam, even the water bottle, -- all awesome photography.
James Franco has certainly progressed from his Harry Osborne days. He carries this movie all by himself, as there are practically no other supporting characters. This is his one-man show. That scene capturing the moment when Aron first realizes that he is trapped was so naturally done -- a great acting moment for Franco.
As I said, initially I did not like to watch this. In all the press releases, we know he will cut off his arm in order to save himself, so there was even no surprise on how the movie will end. You can imagining how singular this incident is, in such an enclosed space, with a particularly gruesome climax. This movie is clearly not for everybody. It shows a man's struggle to survive at all costs. You know the message is positive, but are you willing to watch it? Now, that is another question.