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James Franco's "127 Hours" Of Torment

Piya Sinha-Roy |
November 5, 2010 | 5:18 p.m. PDT

Senior Entertainment Editor


James Franco brings Aron Ralston's true story to the big screen in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" (Chuck Zlotnick/Fox Searchlight)
James Franco brings Aron Ralston's true story to the big screen in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" (Chuck Zlotnick/Fox Searchlight)
“127 Hours”

(USA, 2010, 95 mins)

If Danny Boyle was looking to tackle the polar opposite of his Slumdog Millionaire extravaganza, he couldn’t have picked a better story than Aron Ralston’s “Between A Rock And A Hard Place.”

For those of you not familiar with Ralston’s story, it is a true account of how Ralston managed to get his arm jammed between rocks while hiking solo in a canyon, and after being stuck for days without provisions, he decided to amputate his lower right arm to free himself.

Naturally, the film was not going to be an easy one to tackle or watch from the very beginning. Firstly, how does anyone tell an interesting story of a man stuck on his own for 5 days in the middle of nowhere? And secondly, we already know the ending – Ralston’s story attracted global media attention in 2003, and he has since then gone on to appear on numerous television shows and adverts.

James Franco plays the leading role in “127 Hours,” and does a satisfactory job playing up to Ralston’s arrogance and subsequent lesson in humility. Franco’s desire to pick more indie films is obvious as he tries to move away from his Green Goblin/Harry Osborn persona and working with Danny Boyle, the king of the underdog films, was a strategic pairing. 

The predominant part of the 95 minutes is spent on Franco, naturally. But it’s easy for this plot to become boring, and sadly, it did. While Boyle did a great job trying to keep the pace of the film up, there’s only so much you can do about a guy stuck in a hole for 5 days. 

The ladies of this film are unfortunately only given a minor role as they supplement Ralston’s flashbacks. Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara play the two hikers that Ralston met just prior to his accident, and they do a fine job letting Ralston take them on a fun adventure before he disappears off into the depths of the canyon. Cleménce Poésy graces his flashbacks with her effervescent beauty as his former girlfriend who he unceremoniously broke up with, and his family is given a brief glimpse. The sole purpose of the flashbacks and hallucinations was to depict how Ralston had isolated himself from people who cared about him, but it failed to give more character to Ralston. We’re left intrigued by his past as he resigns himself to his imminent death.

Boyle is said to have described this film as “an action movie with a guy who can’t move.” Ralston’s plight is portrayed with brutal conviction, and when it comes to the gory part, no bars were held in showing what he went through to finally free himself. It’s understandable to leave the film feeling horribly unsettled, because unlike other films featuring blood and gore, this actually happened and throughout the film, you know what’s coming. Franco makes the most of his character, but whether it is award-worthy is debatable. However, with Boyle’s recent success with the Academy and Franco’s rising status as one of Hollywood’s talented actors, it may just garner some Oscar-related attention.

Reach Senior Entertainment Editor Piya Sinha-Roy here and follow her on Twitter @PiyaSRoy.




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