127 Hours (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner05/01/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 94 mins

Thrillingly directed, superbly written and featuring a terrific central performance from James Franco, this is a gripping drama that plays like a real-life version of Buried.

What's it all about?

Directed by Danny Boyle, 127 Hours is based on a true story and stars James Franco as engineer Aron Ralston, who sets off for a weekend of rock climbing in Utah's Bluejohn Canyon, without bothering to tell anyone where he's going. After exploring an underground pool with two young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) he bumps into in the middle of nowhere, Aron says goodbye and sets off on his own, but events take a terrible turn when a dislodged half-tonne boulder crushes his right arm and pins him to the wall of a narrow canyon.

Realising that no-one knows where he is and that no-one will even notice he's missing till Monday, Aron tries to figure out a way of getting free, first hacking away at the rock with a tiny multi-tool knife and later rigging up an impressive but ultimately useless pulley system, all the while recording his thoughts and progress on a handheld video camera. But with his water running out, his supplies exhausted and hallucinations starting to kick in, Aron is forced to accept that he'll have to take drastic action if he's going to have a hope of survival.

The Good
Franco is terrific as Aron, delivering a remarkable, compelling performance that pulls the audience right into his ordeal and grips like a vice. In addition, Simon Beaufoy's excellent script allows him moments of dark humour as he talks to himself, e.g. complaining that the urine he is forced to drink is “no Slurpee” and later, as he starts cracking up, improvising a talk show interview with himself.

The Great
Boyle's direction is astonishing throughout, most notably in a jaw-dropping zoom out from Aron's location that illustrates just how thoroughly screwed he is. He also uses a number of flashy editing techniques to keep the action moving, as well as a series of ingenious and inventive camera angles and positions, such as, incredibly, a shot from inside Aron's arm as he sticks the knife in.

Worth seeing?
Brilliantly directed and featuring a terrific performance from James Franco, this is a gripping real-life drama that's like an extreme version of one of those cautionary adverts from the 1970s: remember, kids – always tell someone where you're going. It would also make a great claustrophobia-themed double-bill with Buried. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

127 Hours (15)
127 Hours has been reviewed by 1 users
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Content updated: 20/08/2018 07:28

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