127 Hours

Year: 2010
Production Co: Cloud Eight Films
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Danny Boyle
Producer: Danny Boyle
Writer: Simon Beaufoy/Danny Boyle/Aaron Ralston
Cast: James Franco, Treat Williams, Clémence Posey

Only Danny Boyle and his crazy, kinetic sense of action could make a story about a guy stuck in one place for days on end so compelling and full of life and movement.

After Slumdog Millionaire he would have been given a blank cheque, and for that reason this movie is a direct descendant of his triumphant 2009 Oscar night.

It's the true story of canyoner and adventurer Aron Ralston, who further cements James Franco's esoteric leading man status. In 2003 he rode out into the Colorado desert for the weekend and while he was deep in a crevice a rock came loose and trapped his arm. The title of the movie is how long he spent down there with only a few bits of fruit and a single water canister.

Boyle manages to maintain the pace and style using two methods. The first is just his usual aesthetic of wheeling cameras, split screens and flourishes like zooming right in to Franco's face with a fish eye lens to capture every drop of sweat and twitch of fear. The blocking and shot composition is rarely conventional.

The other is that despite looking at Ralston for most of the running time, the story takes place in his head, his fears and hopes conveyed to the outside world, leading to images like the giant Scooby Doo haunting him in the dark and the absurdity of the radio phone in sequence.

Ironically, for all the kudos heaped upon Franco (all of it deserved) for carrying the whole story in such a small physical proximity, Ryan Reynolds pipped him at the post a few weeks back doing a similar thing in Buried. Like him, Franco has nothing to fall back on but the strength of his performance, and he shines.

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