Films | 127 hours – Review

127 hours – Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on January 28, 2011 | No Comments

FILM – 127 hours

PRODUCER – Danny Boyle, Christian Colson, John Smithson, (producers), Gareth Smith & Tom Heller (co-producers)

DIRECTOR – Danny Boyle

WRITER – Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy (screenplay), Aron Ralston (based on his book, ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’)

CAST – James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Sean Bott

MUSIC – A R Rahman

127 hours was a package with a lot of feverish value behind it. Danny Boyle and A.R.Rahman fresh from last year’s phenomenal Oscar-winning spree were teaming up again with a real-life super-human story full of grit, determination and courage. Moreover this was in an experimental environment with digital camera, single character, single location and so on.

The film figures in this year’s Oscar-nominations. It is the real-life story of Aron Ralston who was trapped in the Blue John Canyon for five days and ultimately had to cut his own hand to rescue himself. The film tells this story, full of super-human spirit with a complete honesty and respect but above all with a crafty drama that never lets realism come in the way of entertainment or vice-versa. To begin with, this is one of the best achievements of the film.

For a film that remains in one location with one person for 3/4ths of the film it begins on an enthusiastic, high-octane note that establishes character more than setting a mood. A brilliant upbeat exposition shows Aron Ralston off to an expedition in the Blue John Canyon in Colarado with a gusto. He is happy, confident and in love. With adventure and the Canyon. He meets two girls, trekkers, shows them the way to their destination and but not before taking them to his secret haunt a cool, deep pool nestled in the womb of a crevice. The three have the time of their life falling off the crevice into the pool. After this exhilarating experience, Aron sets off to meet his destiny.

Soon enough and as innocuously as it must have happened in real life, Aron is trapped by the boulder. What follows after that is a brilliant expose of human psychology that makes the super-human victory of the story a sub-text.

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy are in no hurry to tell the story. Neither are they worried that its uni-dimensional nature might bore. Not that they are unmindful of the pace or engagement. They invest the story with drama that is taut and real as well as gimmicky. But the gimmicks are justified in the character’s reality yet serve to bring forth a dramatic pace to an otherwise singular story.

127 hours does not pick on the inherent romance of the courageous story. Rather it picks on the psychology of the situation and tells it with a discerning drama that speaks of a very well-judged and attuned craft both in writing and direction. While the writing zooms into the minutiae of the mind and behaviour, the director keeps his eye tightly on drama yet weaving a kaleidoscope of reality, unreality and surreality of Aron’s situations. His past, present, key moments and those inconsequential, pass through his mind with regularity in bits and flashes adding a character as well as an experience to the story.

Noted for capturing psychedelic, dream-nightmare instances with verve and originality, Danny Boyle presents Aron’s story peppering it with enough hallucinations, dreams and illusions that are a basic outcome of his mental state. This detailed excavation of the mentalscape of struggle and survival makes 127 hours a sparkling, convincing and entertaining story which had all the dangers of becoming a docu-drama. James Franco’s stunningly involved performance is coupled with the claustrophobic absorbing cinematography and it is difficult to believe the actor is just acting.

Exceptional cinematography and a samurai-sharp editing helps Boyle achieve this. A. R. Rahman’s soundtrack matches the film every step with a nimble understanding of drama and realism. The high notes and thumping thundering orchestras give it as much power as eminently well-used silences provide the raw and vulnerable edge.

Woven as a gritty and edgy story the film ends on a somewhat tongue-in-cheek note, making light of Aron’s situation. This refusal to sentimentalise the story adds to emphasizing its importance even more and proves the age-old adage that it is not the story that matters, but the story-telling.

FATEMA H.KAGALWALA

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