127 Hours – Review

127 Hours at the BFI Southbank – Thursday 6th January 2011

Plus Q&A with Director Danny Boyle, Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and Producer Christian Colson

With January shaping up to be an excellent month for film, with ‘The Kings Speech’ and the stunning ‘Black Swan’ released over the coming weeks I’ll keep my review of 127 Hours brief as no doubt by now, most people with an interest would have read one of the much more eloquently written reviews currently available

In short, it’s good but it isn’t quite as good as the hype suggests

In April 2006 Aron Ralston set off alone to hike in Canyonland National Park, Utah and following an accident finds himself trapped inside a canyon, with his right hand crushed beneath a near one ton boulder.

The film recounts the days that follow as Ralston fights for survival against the elements, rapidly dwindling supplies and his own faltering sanity

While trapped Ralston records short messages to his family and friends in, for the most part, an unnervingly matter-of-fact fashion and these give a small insight into his life, love and family in what is a very solitary film. Indeed, once trapped we only leave the canyon briefly in dreams or halucinations

Eventually, after being teased and hinted at, ‘that scene’ comes around and a suprisingly large proportion of the audience cover thier eyes or look to the ceiling (so my lovely wife tells me – I was too busy watching the film to notice) and all I can say is – wusses! Once you get past the loud cracks of breaking bones, the actual amputation is quite brief (the actual amputation took around 40 minutes) and not as gory as I had expected, considering the various stories that circulated following early previews of fainting and people being carried out

James Franco gives his customary excellent performance and Danny Boyles’ trademarks visual flair and Slumdog’s A R Rhaman’s score, which ebbs and flows along with the emotion of the film, carry the film brilliantly

A minor gripe would be the product placement of various soft drinks in the mid section of the film, with a montage of fizzy drinks adverts and a clever, highspeed chase through the desert to focus on a full, glistening, delicious bottle of Gatorade, abondonded in the back or Ralstons car. Although all makes sense within the context of the scenes to which they are attached, they do feel a littel jarring and in your face.

My biggest difficulty was an inability to connect with Ralston who, in the short period of the film that we have to get to know him before the accident, comes across as somewhat cocky and narcisistic (leaving behind his mmmmm so tasty and delicious Gatorade behind in his car but remembering both a video camera and a digital camera). Even in his recordings to his family, he doesn’t come across as particularly warm and it isn’t until much later when he talks about his sister (an oddly underused Lizzy Caplin) that any real flash of affection comes out

The Q&A that followed was very interesting, with Danny Boyle being a superbly engaging speaker, full of interesting anecdotes and with such an obvious passion and interest in all parts of the film making process make him a joy to listen to; covering subjects such as his first meeting with James Franco, the music of the film (which band wanted $1 million to use thier song?), stand ins and of course ‘what happened to the hand’?

The Q&A is now available via the BFI website:


Film: 7/10 – Enjoyable but not as good as the hype

Q&A: 8/10 – Boyle could read the phone book and make it interesting

hmmmm i’m suddently quite thirsty – anyone know where I can get some Gatorade?

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