Always leave a note. Even if you’re just going to get milk. Because you don’t want this to happen to you. Now, I’m not someone whose view of a film changes just because it was based on a real story or not, that’s usually inconsequential to whether its a good movie or not. But to think that this guy actually went through this… yeesh.
James Franco gives the performance of his career as Aron Rolston,a free spirit who goes hiking in the badlands alone and gets his arm trapped by a boulder. The movie starts off with Rolston exploring the caverns and meeting up with two girls who are also hiking. We suddenly find ourselves drawn in to this world of young, adventurous travelers which feels exciting and real. it reminded me a lot of Danny Boyle’s previous film The Beach which did an excellent job at capturing the backpacker spirit (which is probably the only thing that movie got right, but regardless…).
Later, after Rostlon’s tumble and entrapment, the movie takes on a new form while still remaining consistent to its original tone. But now we actually delve deeper into Rolston’s character as we see him struggling to survive. There are some flashbacks here but not that many. For the most part it really is just watching Franco by himself coping with the situation. And its fascinating.
Now I’ve come to understand that some people may become squeamish about the ending. Fair enough, but it really is a necessary and uplifting ending. As the famous arm-cutting scene approaches, we begin to see a determination growing in Rolston and a will to live. There is a reason for it which I found both convincing and touching. The scene itself is gory, but that only makes us realize just how hard cutting off your own arm actually is and just how badly he must have wanted it.
This is one of the best movies of the year. My only problem was with the editing techniques occasionally as they could sometimes be distracting, but that’s a minor squabble. 127 Hours is directed with a lot of energy, it has a great performance by Franco which really binds you in with this guy, and a strong ending showcasing the human will to live.