Review: 127 Hours

Monday, October 25 by

Here it is, folks: the arm cutting movie. You’ve heard about it. It’s true. There’s a lot to this story, but you know it as the arm cutting movie. Personally, I think they should do a double feature of 27 Dresses and 127 Hours. In either order.

More after the jump…

Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) true story comes to life in Danny Boyle style. Even before Aron goes climbing, Boyle cuts together split screen shots of his preparation. He gets shots from inside a water bottle or inside the video camera as the servos spin. Even the adjustment of music volume adds an exciting layer to the editing.

There are awesome shots of Aron biking the canyon. This movie will certainly look great on Blu Ray. As Aron guides novice hikers Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) squeezing through a crevice, it’s more suspenseful than any action movie. The way Boyle has a camera follow Aron is amazing. It’s fast and smooth. He doesn’t even resort to shaky handheld.

Aron is charming with women, playing somewhere between a rugged savior and a scary mountain man. He’s not incompetent at all. Aron practically owns nature. It’s a total fluke that he gets pinned under a rock and he’s more surprised than anyone.

Here’s where the style really kicks in. The rest of the movie is going to be just Aron by himself dealing with the situation, trying everything he can until the inevitable solution, and somehow keeping us entertained for another 70 or so minutes.

First Aron lays out all of his supplies so we know exactly what he’s working with. Everything he tries to do is all visual, conveyed through the camera. He creates some of his own problems too, like when he drops the knife. Spoiler alert, the knife comes back in the end.

The way he finds a way to sleep is brilliant. That didn’t even occur to me. My mind was on the bathroom issues, which he addresses also. There are more issues to Aron’s situation than would immediately come to mind, so there’s plenty of excitement for the whole movie.

The film explores Aron’s dreams, which would seem like a cheat in some stories, but not here. I don’t think there was any shortage of real world drama to portray, but the way 127 Hours represents his dreams gives us a clear visual look into Aron’s mind. There are some beautiful, surreal visual effects.

It also avoids the inner monologue trap. When Aron finally devolves into a self dialogue, Boyle portrays three distinct personalities with a unique camera angle and footage style for each one.

Then it happens. There’s one particular detail that makes it extra squirmy, but it’s just realistic. It had to be done (in real life) and it has to be shown, otherwise the whole movie is B.S. You don’t get the triumph of human survival without the brutal reality of Aron’s sacrifice. Don’t be afraid to look. It’s good for you.

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