That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

127 Hours

Saturday, December 4th, 2010 4:48 pm—Film

127 Hours (USA/UK 2010, Adventure/Biography/Drama), Writers: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy; Director: Danny Boyle

I was really stoked to see 127 Hours and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. This movie is fantastic. As I mentioned not long ago in a teaser about the film, it’s based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Aron Ralston’s real life account of the five days he spent trapped in a Utah canyon and the choice he had to make to survive: cutting off his right arm, which was pinned under a boulder.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that writer/director Danny Boyle and lead actor James Franco make 127 Hours a masterpiece. I’m wondering whether some of my love for the film comes from where I’m at right now, just as Into the Wild had a stronger impact on me because of the personal context at the time I saw it. But objectively, I think 127 Hours really is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

Boyle outdoes himself technically. His film is expertly structured, and visually and aurally stunning. He captures the glorious splendor of the land Aron tries to explore and conquer. Then, with seemingly equal ease, Boyle creates a tight, claustrophobic world where Aron is forced to look within himself and explore an entirely different realm than the vast canyons and mountains that had been his focus for so long. Not only does Boyle make Aron’s time in the crevice feel utterly genuine and believable, but Boyle also manages to bring thrills and excitement to those scenes. He does wonders with Aron’s hallucinations, dreams and flashbacks, not to mention his direction of Franco.

As Aron, Franco delivers what is easily one of his best performances. His portrayal is incredibly raw and completely without artifice. Franco lets us see Aron change before our eyes as he hangs from his (one)handmade sling, trying to stay alive and, in the process, finding a reason behind it all. When he breaks down in sobs, it isn’t just because he’s trapped at the bottom of a canyon. It’s because he’s finally realized just how isolated he’d made himself, and it took being physically prevented from returning to the rest of the world for him to see what a handicap that was. Every moment in his life—every unreturned phone call, every wall he put up between himself and those around him—led him to that canyon, beneath that boulder, with none of his loved ones having the first clue where to find him or even that he was missing. As he says, “I chose this.”

If 127 Hours wasn’t based on a true story, this premise could seem like a very convenient, if artful, metaphor. But it truly was lived by Ralston. He was in such a hurry to seek out what he thought would, or did, make him happy, that he buried and dismissed the cost of avoiding any real connection with the people in his life. (“These things that are pleasin’ you can hurt you somehow.”)

Aron’s story, as well as a number of other events that I’ve heard of or experienced in the past while, have had me wondering: How much of life’s events are laid out in advance as if to form a film or a novel? Whether you believe that things happen for a reason, or that you can draw lessons and create your own reason from what has happened, there’s a certain symmetry in life that I find hard to discount and impossible not to marvel at.

I won’t follow that thought much further so as not to give away more details about the movie. Many of the film’s other moments that struck a chord for me come in Aron’s reactions when he’s finally free of the rock and when he’s able to seek help, and although you know in advance that these things will happen, I don’t want to ruin the delivery. I will say that Boyle has tackled a challenging story and succeeded in creating an impressive, powerful and exciting film that inspires hope without ever being sentimental.

See this movie. Even if you can’t stomach gore. You can close your eyes when Aron parts ways with his limb (I did). But 127 Hours is a film not to be missed; it’s an important and amazing story told by incredible filmmakers working at their best.

*            *            *

This post is for CDC and MDC. I always love their reason. Merci.

4 Responses

  1. Gen Laroche

    This is one of my favorite movie… I also have the book but I haven’t had a chance to read yet. I should start it on my way home this Christmas. btw I closed my eyes and blocked my ears a few times too 🙂

  2. amanda

    Yay! I’m not the only wimp 🙂 I really want to read the book, too. We can have fireside readings over the holidays… except without the fire.

  3. Camille

    I’m really, really looking forward to seeing this movie! Gotta wait for it to come to NS, though…

    Not sure if I’ve missed it, but have you seen and reviewed The King’s Speech? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Personally I was utterly charmed and enjoyed it, but I haven’t quite tried to pinpoint why yet…

  4. amanda

    so, so, SO good! 127 Hours remains one of my favourite movies (you know, after all those weeks). I did see The King’s Speech, but it didn’t make enough of an impression for me to want to write about it. In a nutshell, I found it very predictable and formulaic, but also extremely well executed. So I’d recommend it to people who are into period pieces, Colin Firth, etc. (Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush are also always worth watching), but just don’t have much more to say. You know? Great film, nothing groundbreaking. It is charming, though… you’re right.

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