James Franco is out on a limb in 127 Hours | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

James Franco is out on a limb in 127 Hours 

James Franco in "127 Hours"

Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/ Fox Searchlight

James Franco in "127 Hours"

The Book of Job is the most vexing story in the Bible. In order to test his faith, God permits the righteous Job to suffer at the hands of Satan: Job loses his possessions, endures physical harm and his offspring are killed. Even worse is that the entire exercise stems from a wager between God and Satan over whether the pious Job would succumb and curse God under the pressure of such loss.

In 127 Hours, Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) tells the harrowing, heroic tale of Aron Ralston (James Franco), a mountain climber who, in 2003, fell into a rocky chasm while traversing through Robbers Roost in Utah and remained trapped for more than five days after his right arm became wedged between a rock and another rock.

Aided by the pulsating score of his Slumdog composer, A.R. Rahman, and a light camera that enables tracking shots in tight places, Boyle splendidly and intimately dramatizes Ralston's incredible efforts at survival and escape over the titular span of time. Beyond trying to stave off dehydration and the elements, his biggest battle becomes the one with his own psyche. Nostalgic memories of Ralston's family and the roller coaster relationship with his ex-girlfriend Rana (Clémence Poésy) soon transition into visions of escape, a party with two hikers he met earlier in the day (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn), and, in the film's unquestioned highlight, a radio interview he conducts with himself—"a big fuckin' hard hero" broadcasting from "Loser Canyon, Utah"—over the stupidity of not telling anyone where he was planning to hike that day.

Throughout the film, Boyle places the viewer close to Ralston's viewpoint, whether he is diving into underground aquifers or drinking his own urine. Meanwhile, Franco, in an awards-worthy performance, ably shows Ralston's progress through the five stages of grief, so that the unthinkable seems almost inevitable in both his mind and that of the audience. Some may be unprepared for the visceral "money scene"—Boyle uses makeup and sounds effects to make viewers feel every hack through bone and sinew—but its explicitness is essential to the film's impact.

127 Hours succeeds in telling the story of a man who comes to grips with his own fallibility and vulnerability. When Ralston futilely screams for help after first being trapped in his rocky dungeon, Boyle slowly pans the camera out to show the sheer expanse of desolate earth surrounding him.

Matters become thornier, however, when Boyle expands the saga into a moral of redemption and salvation. Ralston is portrayed as a flawed man, but as best I can tell, he's a wiseacre who doesn't return his mother's phone calls as often as he should and was negligent in his relationship with Rana. Otherwise, he appears to be a disarming, heedless thrill seeker who cares about his family and friends. As with Job, there's a disconnect between Ralston's personal "transgressions" and the consequent tribulations heaped upon him, one that Boyle does not seem to adequately bridge.

One exegesis of the Book of Job involves righteousness and mercy; another could be man's utter helplessness in the face of nature's whims, whether inflicted at random or at the behest of supreme beings. The finale of Boyle's film is joyful and life-affirming, but, like Into the Wild and Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man, 127 Hours is ultimately the story of a prideful man who respects nature but misapprehends his place in it.

Film Details

127 Hours
Rated R · 95 min. · 2010
Official Site: www.127hoursmovie.com
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
Cast: James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Clémence Poésy, Kate Burton, Darin Southam, Elizabeth Hales, Norman Lehnert and Priscilla Poland

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for 127 Hours

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Spiderman homecoming is the best spider man movie that I have seen yet https://goo.gl/jhKahk

by Hazel Gomez on Spider-Man: Homecoming Makes a Fifty-Five-Year-Old Hero Feel Like a Kid Again (Film Review)

I was born and raised in Bertie County, and believe me, this was painful and beautiful to watch. I was …

by Tar Heels forever on Know More About Manhattan Than Your Embattled Neighbors in Rural North Carolina? Then See Raising Bertie. (Film Review)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Spiderman homecoming is the best spider man movie that I have seen yet https://goo.gl/jhKahk

by Hazel Gomez on Spider-Man: Homecoming Makes a Fifty-Five-Year-Old Hero Feel Like a Kid Again (Film Review)

I was born and raised in Bertie County, and believe me, this was painful and beautiful to watch. I was …

by Tar Heels forever on Know More About Manhattan Than Your Embattled Neighbors in Rural North Carolina? Then See Raising Bertie. (Film Review)

Clint's film is trashy? maybe that's why all of us pigs would like to wallow in it.

by Jovana Dimitrijevic on In Her Remake of Clint Eastwood's Lurid, Trashy The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola Probes Deeper Rhythms (Film Review)

Thanks for spoiling the movie. Just because you didn't like it doesn't mean you have to ruin it for everyone …

by Carly L. on The Book of Henry Is a Blatant Tearjerker Whose Elaborate Plot Serves a Useless Solution (Film Review)

I was an undergrad at Duke when The Handmaid's Tale was filmed. I remained on campus during spring break and …

by PeterH on A Forgotten The Handmaid’s Tale Movie Filmed in Durham Is the Missing Link Between Classic Novel and Hulu Hit (Film Review)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation