Many thought director Danny Boyle wouldn’t be able to top his Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire (actually I did, after a second viewing, it wasn’t as great), but he definitely proved the strength and diversity of his filmmaking palette in 127 Hours. Based on the true story of avid canyoneer and climber Aron Ralston, this film displayed more than anything the resilience of a man who willed himself to live on and stay alive to tell this tale of perseverance.
WARNING: The following review may contain spoilers to Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours.
What seemed on the surface as just a one man performance powering the film of an acclaimed director, became a telling of a story that entranced the audience to see, feel, and experience beyond just one person. Although the majority of the film situated itself within the confined and claustrophobic space of Aron Ralston played by James Franco, what the audience saw and learnt from it was so much more than a singular realization. Through the performance of James Franco and the unyielding direction of Danny Boyle, we were able to see one man’s brightest and darkest hours, 127 of them. The basis of the movie revolves around Alston’s adventure into a Utah canyon range which was stopped abruptly by a loose boulder between a large earthly crevice, where he was trapped for the better part of 5 days.
The combination of a narrative or third-person camera and a digital camcorder belonging to Alston, told his story from a very personal and raw perspective. His realizations became our realizations and projected us into the spiritual, mental and astral experiences that he went through so vividly. It is true that it is a story that happened to one person, but what came out of it was a connection beyond that for Alston and the audience, from reality to hallucinatory. Being the second screening in the word for 127 Hours, both Danny Boyle and James Franco were present as well as Aron Ralston himself at the Toronto International Film Festival. Seeing him and hearing his thoughts after the film during the Q&A session made the film more amazing than it already was on its own. The first question he was asked was simple, “what did you think of the film’s portrayal of you and your experiences?”. But this simple question was enough to bring tears to Alston’s eyes saying that it was definitely hard to watch, but what was even more emotional was to look to his left and right where his wife and sister and family were sitting.
I have seen 5 films at the TIFF and this one was by far the most eye-opening and captivating of all. Most of the films you watch won’t have you guaranteeing major award nominations for, but this certainly was. This was James Franco’s best performance yet and one of Danny Boyle’s best film if not the best. The sound design and editing enhanced the film to have the audience physically feel the movement, pain and overall sensory experience. In March of 2011, if I don’t see Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Editing, Screenwriting and Sound for this film, I will pick up hiking myself.
Next up, TIFF review on Kin Ji-woon’s I Saw The Devil!