By Carter Friend
It’s hard to believe that a good movie can be made about a person stuck in a terrible situation without being able to move throughout the whole film. Yet, we got two of them in 2010: Buried and 127 Hours. Surprisingly, both received unanimously positive reviews. In fact, 127 Hours was even nominated for Best Actor and Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And as it turns out, that’s for good reason.
The film is based on the real life story of Aron Ralston, an avid outdoorsman who ends up getting his arm pinned between a rock and a canyon wall with no possible way to escape except for amputating his own arm. Pretty much the entire movie is him trying to break free, while at the same time come to terms with the fact that he may die. The whole movie is an emotional roller coaster that makes you feel really attached to the character, and makes it all the harder to watch him go through all of the terrible agony he endured.
This is one of the greatest examples of how an actor can carry a film. James Franco is the only real star here (sure, other people are in the movie, but Franco is the only one on screen for about 90% of the time). If they had cast someone who could not have handled the scope and intensity of this role, the movie would have been basically worthless. Franco made it interesting to spend two hours with him while he tried to break free from a rock. That is a sign of a good actor. However, the script and direction of the movie was also great. All of Aron’s hallucinations and recordings of himself are shot in really cool, creative ways that made the movie just really enjoyable. It also had a wide range of emotions: one minute it’d be happy, the next minute it’d be sad, the next minute it’d be funny, the next minute it’d be scary. However, it was all strewn together seamlessly.
One thing people have to understand about this movie is that it is intense. You hear people talking about how Black Swan is too much to handle. Well, if you couldn’t handle Black Swan, you won’t last five minutes with this movie. The actual amputation scene is one of the most unnerving scenes I’ve ever seen from a movie, especially given the time we’ve gotten to know the man doing it. You feel the pain right along side him. It is graphic and gruesome, but I implore you to try to watch, because it is so extremely well done. On a side note, whenever I hear anyone complaining about something bad going on in their life, I will feel no sympathy for them. At least you don’t have to amputate your own arm with a pocket knife!
Overall, this was an amazingly well-made movie and shattered all doubts that I had about whether or not a movie like this with one character in one place could actually be interesting. I have not felt so connected to a character in a movie for a long time. James Franco is superb here, as is Danny Boyle’s directing. Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle’s last movie, is a film that I was not too wild about, but everybody else in the world seemed to go crazy over. This movie, on the other hand, I enjoyed much more, yet it is in no way being talked about as a frontrunner come this award season. I just don’t understand it. But I insist upon you, if you have the stomach for it, please go see this movie. You won’t regret it.
The Verdict: 5 out of 5