Friday, January 28, 2011

127 Hours

One of the contenders for this year's Academy Awards.

Danny Boyle is one of those film directors I have never been able to decide whether I'm a fan of or not.

Some of his films I watched a dozen times each. There was Shallow Grave, one of the best thriller noirs of the 1990s. Or, The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, a gripping depiction of human nature and the way communities implode under the weight of envy and factionalism.

Then there's Slumdog Millionaire, showered with praise and awards, a touching tale of exploitation and expectations set in modern India. And, of course, Boyle was also the man behind one of best the horror films of the last ten years, the disturbing 28 Days Later.

However, what's annoying about the most famous living British director is what seems to be the 'ultra-cool' and 'in-with-the-kids' factor. Some of his stuff is reminiscent of those 'cool students' circa-1998 who would look at you in amazement at the news that, no, you don't actually like Moby or Fatboy Slim. "What? Really, man? But Moby is sooooo cool!".

Cue the irritating camera work. The fast forwarded bits. The industrial amounts of clipped images. The super trendy soundtracks, and god forbid if the film tallies two consecutive seconds without music in the foreground. And so on.

Trainspotting springs to mind, one of the films I've never been able to actually grasp - which is my own fault no doubt.

Still, you can't fault the man. Radcliffe's biggest export seems to have struck gold again, as his latest release is one of the hottest contenders for this year's Academy Awards.

100% based on true events, 127 Hours is an engrossing tale of survival and endurance. It's the story of Aron Rolston, an adventure sports fanatic who became trapped by a boulder in the Utah canyons in 2003.

Played by the excellent James Franco, Aron inadvertently falls into a crevice with the added bad luck of a massive boulder tumbling til the point it's encased against his arm.

As the place is literally in the middle of nowhere, the protagonist embarks upon a race against time, loneliness, climate and physical pain in an increasingly desperate quest to get out alive.

And what a desperate quest it is. Most viewers would probably wonder what they would have done had they been in his shoes. Not a lot, probably, if you consider that Aron was fighting alone while standing up for five days with all but a trapped arm, a cheap swissknife and a water flask.

Which is what makes this film particularly special. Aron's emotions are portrayed masterfully, with his sense of panic and despair gradually spiralling out of control as his life begins to flash, literally, before his eyes. Bravely, however, the man manages to keep his nerves under control, which is ultimately what will allow him to survive to tell his story.

A must-see.

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