DVD of the Week – Review of 127 Hours (2010)

by NIR SHALEV

James Franco is a very versatile actor. He’s played Harry Osborn, the son of the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man trilogy; Saul Silver, a drug dealing stoner who lacks friends in Pineapple Express; and in 127 Hours he portrays Aron Ralston, a mountaineer and extreme sports aficionado who came, temporarily to a terrible impasse in 2003.

The following incident took place eight years ago but people still remember it well. Aron went mountaineering all alone, as he usually does, without a soul in the world knowing where he went or when he’d come back home. He loved to climb and descend hills, mountains and crevices, and bike around as much as possible but one day he slipped and fell into a crevice. A boulder fell with him; it pinned his right arm to the side of a canyon wall. He was trapped, standing on top of another boulder, with his right arm impossible to retrieve from between the rock and the rock face, and seeing that he hadn’t planned on staying the night he was quickly low on food and water.

What the film chronicles, from then on, is the five days to follow in which he slowly descends (pun intended) into madness and realizes that he has no one to blame but himself. The famous use of the expression “oops” crosses his lips after he recalls that if he’d only left a note on the fridge door, living room, or kitchen table with his current whereabouts he wouldn’t have been in the hot mess that he was.

Director Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire) utilizes his famous frenzied filmmaking style, what with split screen segments, time lapse scenery that evokes feelings of dread within the audience instead of simple scenic beauty, and a musical soundtrack that is effectively touching and sometimes cringe inducing (but always for effect!).

The film’s editing, mysteriously nominated for an Oscar was, personally, mostly irritating but not enough to slam. It could have been much more low key to my liking but I did grow to ignore it because after all, the star of the show is James Franco and his bravura solo show. He is the only actor in the film for the most part and never seems to be acting. He plays his character seeming as if he himself had been extreme biking and mountaineering for decades and when he’s in pain, we also feel his pain.

This film is not an easy film to watch, not an easy experience to endure but watching it, I couldn’t wait to find out whether Danny Boyle would show Aron cutting off his right arm with a dull knife like he did in real life. I won’t spoil the experience for those seeing this film for the first time.

The DVD and Blu-ray versions of the film come with a director, producer, and co-screenwriter commentary and deleted scenes. Extra features are “Search & Rescue: actual events that aided the search and rescue of Aron Ralston” and “127 Hours: An Extraordinary View – A unique collaboration between the director and actor.”

Original Commentary Track review of 127 Hours by Helen Geib.

Other new releases this week: Burlesque, Faster, Love and Other Drugs

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