Posted November 11, 2010 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Films

127 Hours

Mountain climber Aron Ralston gained a considerable amount of fame
after he amputated his trapped right arm in spring 2003. Justifiably
referred to as a “phenomenal true story”, he soon rode the wave of
publicity by releasing an autobiography, appearing on every American
chat show sofa from Oprah to David Letterman and was even named ‘Man of
the Year’ by GQ magazine. Inevitably the book was optioned to become a
film and after the world conquering if slightly overrated Slumdog
Millionaire, Danny Boyle has brought this story to the screen.

Much like Titanic, the biggest task for Boyle is not following
up the Oscar-sweeping Slumdog but keeping the audience interested
before and after the pivotal screen in which Ralston (Franco) cuts his lower arm off with a blunt knife
while in a weakened, delirious state. We all know what is coming and
are probably only interested in seeing that, especially as news quickly
spread of viewers fainting and throwing up in early previews.
Everything that comes before it is merely build up, a watch-glancing
exercise in patience that will leave some eyes rolling and a few
muttering, “When does he lob his arm off?” If that scene didn’t live up
to the hype, the audience’s imagination or Ralston’s own gruesome detail
the film would be left with no discernable interest.

Luckily for all involved, that scene is in horrifying, gasp-inducing detail and is undoubtedly the highlight of an ultimately disappointing film.
Ralston is portrayed as any young man interested in more than getting a
job and merely floating through life. He rides his bike with vigour and
convinces two lost (and attractive) girls to have a go on what looks
like the world’s best, natural rollercoaster. Before setting off on his
adventure we see him ignore his mother’s phone call and resist telling
people where he’s going or what he’s doing, a decision that obviously
comes back to haunt him but instead of tagging him as a selfish moron,
he comes across as a normal person with no reason to think anything
would happen.

Apart from that assumption, there is no discernable look at who
Ralston is. Why he does what he does, what drives him and what he thinks
during the five day ordeal apart from a few saccharine video diaries.
While Rodrigo Cortés enjoyed and thrived off of the limits making a film
about a man in a box brought him, Boyle instead decided to make this a 93 minute music video
complete with split screens, hasty editing and even going as far as
giving viewers an inside look at Ralston’s arm as he’s cutting through
it. This initially works as it gives the dry, coral landscape some
energy and while some may find it entertaining, to others it comes off
as tiresome and lazy.

You’re left wondering not only about the man but what this experience
was like as Boyle is so pre-occupied with flashbacks, day dreams and
split screens to leave focus on Franco who delivers a great performance.
Similarly the film rushes the conclusion after the amputation and is
quick to show us that the real Ralston is doing just fine. That’s all
well and good but while the pivotal scene lives up to the hype, it’s hard to wonder why 127 Hours didn’t do the real Ralston more justice.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.