Sunday, 29 November 2015

127 Hours (2010)

I've had this Blu-Ray since it came out and still hadn't watched it, even though it features climbing and I'm a bit of a climber. Time to put that right.

An ill equipped man trapped by his own stupidity, looses his arm in a beautifully shot canyon.

James Franco plays Aron Ralston, a Sisyphus like "Xtreme" sports man-child driven by his own arrogance to spend a week pushing at a boulder. Therein lies the problem for me; I really dislike that particular portrayal of climbing and the outdoors life. Self-absorbed, baggy clothes wearing, techno-listening, photo-opportunists taking stupid risks just to grab a sponsorship deal and look cool.

I got that the film was using his near death experience show Ralston what a shallow and lonely person he had been and that he needed to change to survive. This could very well be the reason that he stupidly told no one of his trek - he had no one to tell, and for this I feel truly sorry for the man. I sincerely hoped that he took this experience and became a more humble and grounded person... but no, the first thing he does when free is to take a fucking selfie! Then onward to the speaking tours, publishing deals and, of course, this film. In fact the most telling sequence in the film is of Ralston pretending/hallucinating being on a talk-show as the special guest.

Enough of my moaning, how was the film itself? I found the photography, while beautiful, was a little too kinetic and hyperactive for me. Split-screen, dropped frames, sped-up film. This is everything I want to leave behind when climbing (although really, this is more scrambling than climbing). Give me focus and peace any day.

James Franco's performance is great, flawless really. It's just that I don't like the person he's playing.

The plot? Like all films that rely on an impressive set-piece at the end, it must have enough substance during the journey to keep you interested. Personally, I don't think 127 Hours had that - a few flashbacks doesn't make a story. I was either bored or irritated for the majority of the film.

One shot that really did annoy me for it's cheapness was of Ralston preparing for his trek and searching on a high shelf for his Swiss Army knife. His hand flaps to either side trying to find the elusive knife before he gives up and decides to go without it.

As for the soundtrack. Playing Lovely Day over Ralston struggling against his bolder does not make you clever. It's the sort of simplistic cinematic shorthand that I hate.

What should have been an interesting film about the dichotomy between temporary pain and long term survival ended up with me wanting him to cut his throat and not his arm.

So, what did we learn? If you're going trekking, climbing, skiing, diving, hunting or whatever; tell someone where you are going and when you'll be back and just remember kids: perfect planning prevents piss poor performance.

Style over substance and my least favourite Danny Boyle film.

Letterboxd Review

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