The Oscar race just got a little more crowded as Danny Boyle's 127 Hours enters the mix. An energetic, beautifully shot and superbly acted film based on the harrowing true story of Aron Ralston, a devil-may-care adventurer who finds himself alone and trapped in an isolated canyon in Utah. His hand pinned between a rock and the canyon wall (or, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" as the book title suggests), Ralston spent more than five days facing certain death before making a crucial decision to survive. 127 Hours is one of the best movies of 2010.
James Franco is the singular star in this intimate, psychological drama. Boyle spends time developing both the tragically flawed but likable Ralston and the beautiful but extremely remote scenery before diving into the mind of Ralston himself. Like Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours is gorgeous in its presentation; Boyle takes full advantage of the setting with an explosion of vivid colors, imaginative hallucinations and flashbacks and music that keeps the picture moving even when the main character can't move.
But it's Franco and his award-worthy performance that makes 127 Hours so powerful. Franco has always been regarded as a talented actor, but he carries 100 percent of the film on his shoulders. He embraces his character so fully it shows in every word, expression and twitch. This is a defining performance for Franco and one that could garner his first Oscar nomination.
As good as 127 Hours is, it's even more painful. For those of you who don't know how Ralston's story ends I won't ruin it, but needless to say the movie features one of the most horrifyingly painful and gory scenes put to film. Boyle holds nothing back.
127 Hours is one of the best movies of 2010, but it isn't a film for everyone. The climax will keep some people away and its singular focus won't appeal to everyone, but 127 Hours is still an accessible tale that could catch on with the masses. Regardless, it is definitely one of the few must-see movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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