Friday, 21 January 2011

Canyon Believe It?

Cine Review: 127 HOURS
15 – 94mins – 2011
Screenplay by: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
Based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by: Aron Ralston
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Starring: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn


Having tackled gritty urban drama (Trainspotting), horror (28 Days Later), science fiction (Sunshine) and coming-of-age romance (Slumdog Millionaire) over the last 15 years, eclectic - and not to mention award-winning - director Danny Boyle gets to grips with yet another diverse genre with his latest big screen tour de force: real life survival stories.

In 127 Hours Boyle and returning Slumdog composer A. R. Rahman conjure a quirky, wired style and effective use of split screen to bring the distressing true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) to life. The technical flourishes are advantageous to the drama as Aron spends ninety-nine percent of the film on his lonesome trapped in one static position in one claustrophobic location. It's a grim scenario for certain; his right arm crushed beneath an unshiftable boulder in an isolated crevice in Blue John Canyon near Moab, Utah.

Even from a third person perspective it's a tense and traumatic experience watching Aron while away the excruciating hours of desperation by procrastinating, innovating and hallucinating as hope of rescue fades and his food and water supplies run dangerously low. It's a remarkably inspiring display of willpower which will have you cringing and peeping through your fingers as one sickeningly unthinkable option becomes evermore liable... and vitally necessary.

Based as this film is on Aron's published memoir of his ordeal, we already know he will survive, against all odds, but regardless of the "happily ever after" this observational document is still gripping and al-arm-ing stuff (particularly that infamously vivid scene), to the director and star's credit. We truly get an unguarded view inside Aron's tortured headspace as he panics, ponders and prophesies from within his cavernous prison.

In a CR@B Shell: An artistic but respectfully tasteful representation of courage under boulder from a director who seems to excel at everything he turns his hand to. And no, I didn't set out to make a cheap limb jibe there... but I'm leaving it in.

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