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127 HOURS



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Clemence Posey, Treat Williams, Kate Burton, Lizzy Caplan (Directed by Danny Boyle; Written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy; Fox Searchlight)

“In April 2003 Aron Ralston, a 27-year-old hiker, fell and was trapped in a narrow slot in Blue John Canyon in Utah, his right arm wedged against the rock wall by a boulder...Mr. Ralston understood his predicament, above all, as a series of technical problems. His solution was grisly and dramatic: using the blade of a cheap multipurpose tool, he cut off the immobilized arm between the elbow and the wrist, freeing himself after more than five days...‘127 Hours,’ a chronicle of accident and determination, is nearly flawless. Mr. Franco’s goofball energy connects the viewer to the character almost instantly...Mr. Boyle has a knack for tackling painful, violent or unpleasant subjects with unremitting verve and unstoppable joie de vivre...There are scenes in ‘127 Hours’ that are hard to bear — the cracking of a bone, the severing of a nerve, the desperate consumption of a water bag filled with urine—but what these moments communicate is more than worth a jolt of discomfort or a spasm of revulsion. To say that this movie gets under your skin is only barely a figure of speech. It pins you down, shakes you up and leaves you glad to be alive.” –A.O. SCOTT, The New York Times

“The title refers to the time it took Aron Ralston, the real-life mountain climber played sensationally well by James Franco, to extricate himself from a slot canyon into which he had tumbled during a solitary wilderness hike in Utah seven years ago. Extrication required amputation—Mr. Ralston's left-handed severing of his right forearm, which was pinned between a chalkstone boulder and the canyon wall. Because this agony is depicted vividly, albeit briefly, you may go in with your eyes wide open but not keep them that way throughout...To justify such a harrowing sequence, any mainstream movie would have to be exceptional, and this one certainly is—it's exciting, stirring, often funny, sometimes lyrical and unusually thoughtful. And, with that one egregious exception, genuinely pleasurable...‘127 Hours’ treats profound issues with unforced wisdom and uncommon grace. The story is one of survival through almost unthinkable self-mutilation, but the subject is self-discovery. By the time Aron raises himself up from the bowels of the earth into the blazing sun, he knows who he is, and we do too.”  --JOE MORGENSTERN, The Wall Street Journal

“Rather than elaborate on Ralston's particular ‘Boy’s Life’adventure, illuminating why it's so unique, Boyle's poppy conceptual razzmatazz simply suggests the man as a contestant on ‘America’s Next Top Mountain Climber,’  all style for the sake of style...this guy's attitude, more Zen than self-absorbed, doesn't justify the film's audio-visual assault on the audience's senses; Ralston is chill and Boyle's misbegotten aesthetic doodling, like A.R. Rahman's relentless, techno-infused score, would more accurately befit a crack addict's nature-trailing. Boyle's artistry capitalizes on his audience's attention-deficit disorders. He probably felt that Ralston wasn't a particularly interesting subject for a film and that the horror he endured, while certainly harrowing, was a visually inert one...Franco's poignant performance makes lucid the simultaneous horror and absurdity of Ralston's situation; the way Franco never loses sight of Ralston's sense of joy even as he painfully regrets his mistakes...Pity that Boyle's own imprints so infuriatingly undermine the great feeling of Franco's performance...Boyle tramples on reality, misrepresents it, gussies it up so audiences won't be as bored as Ralston surely must have been during those 127 hours. In the end, a heroic man's perseverance gets a shrill ad man's makeover.”  --ED GONZALEZ, Slant Magazine

“Danny Boyle's ‘127 Hours’ is a true-life adventure that turns into a one-man disaster movie—and the darker it gets, the more enthralling it becomes...How do you rivet an audience when your protagonist can't even move? The answer is that there's an awesome freedom to Danny Boyle's filmmaking. And freedom, too, is the theme of the movie. Aron may be pinned, but his soul gets unlocked, and when he finally faces up to what he has to do, he's not just cutting off his trapped appendage. He's cutting off the part of himself that was only pretending to be alive.  ‘127 Hours’  is a salute to do-it-yourself existential bravery, and an ingeniously crafted one, but what makes it cathartic is that it's about a guy who gets high by taking the ultimate plunge.”  --OWEN GLEIBERMAN, Entertainment Weekly

“What would you do if you were a hiker and a rock slide pinned your arm against a narrow canyon wall and help was nowhere to be found? If you're Aron Ralston, who subsequently wrote a book, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," about his real-life 2003 ordeal in Bluejohn Canyon, Utah, you exhaust all nonsurgical remedies over the course of 127 hours and then you do the dirty deed. You sever your right forearm. This sequence, which provides the grisly, inevitable climax to Danny Boyle's ‘127 Hours,’ has reportedly set off a wave of fainting spells at preview screenings. It's only a movie, folks, though you may want to look away anyway. I didn't, thereby ruining my dinner plans...Franco is a remarkably engaging actor–a prerequisite here–but Boyle, understandably, tricks up his predicament with a slew of Ralston's imaginings and fantasies and swaddles everything in a throbbing synthopop score...As a testament to positive thinking, ‘127 Hours’ will probably stand as a ringing affirmation for reckless survivalists. For those of us not so affirmed, Boyle's paean to heroism–-a better title for it might have been ‘A Farewell to Arm’–-is merely the best gross-out music video ever made.”  --PETER RAINER, The Christian Science Monitor

“It's the most harrowing film of the year...thanks to Danny Boyle's energy, for a story about a man who cannot move, the ordeal unfolds at a pace that keeps you breathless. As a true survival tale, it's so intense that preview audiences at various film festivals have fainted and been carried away on stretchers...Fraught with tension, yet never claustrophobic,  ‘127 Hours’ is a phenomenal piece of work in which a fine actor and an innovatively cinematic director join forces to keep you gasping for oxygen all the way.” –REX REED, The New York Observer 

“After making ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ arguably the worst movie ever to win the Best Picture Oscar, Danny Boyle surprisingly comes up with a not-bad film. ‘127 Hours,’ the true-life story of Aron Ralston’s 2003 rock-climbing mishap, makes acceptable use of Boyle’s usually egregious flamboyance...Boyle doesn’t concentrate on the spiritual crisis of Ralston’s imprisonment as Bresson’s great ‘A Man Escaped’ pondered the depth of an isolated man’s sense of time and mortality. Boyle lacks depth and so plays to his mettle: turning Ralston’s predicament into a spectacular stunt. That’s why ‘127 Hours’ never descends into a vat of manure as ‘Slumdog’ did aesthetically and literally.”  --ARMOND WHITE, New York Press

“Only a truly visionary filmmaker could take a story largely set in a cramped canyon and give it a sense of openness and hope. In ‘127 Hours,’  director Danny Boyle (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) deftly sidesteps claustrophobia with his stunningly kinetic photography and rapid-fire editing. He also has cast the perfect actor for his virtuosic imagery. James Franco is thoroughly captivating as Aron Ralston, a rock climber who in 2003 suffered a freak accident near Moab, Utah. With this Oscar-worthy performance, Franco taps into a dramatic range only hinted at in his previous roles... it is no spoiler to cite a much-discussed scene in which Ralston is forced to amputate his forearm to extricate himself. But to focus on the graphic nature of that climactic scene is to reduce this enthralling tale to a gimmick. As visceral as a horror movie, the scene is more gut-wrenching than stomach-turning. Ralston tries everything to budge the immovable rock before being forced to do the unthinkable. Though it may be hard to avoid flinching, we are compelled to witness Ralston's only means of survival after enduring his entrapment with him. It feels like an insult to Franco's brilliant turn and to Ralston's real-life nightmare to glance away.”  --CLAUDIA PUIG, USA  Today

“Danny Boyle is modern cinema’s most virtuosic whore...Now, in ‘127 Hours,’ Boyle gives us a music-video-style exercise in boundless freedom, cruel confinement, and crippling/liberating self-mutilation that makes for just about the ultimate trick...The come-on for the picture is, in essence, ‘See James Franco cut off his arm!’...The act turns out to be presented as a garish spectacle, a test of our endurance akin to the character’s...You’ll be pleased to know that the sound of muscle being cut is quite different from the sound of flesh and tendon. Do I hear a Sound Oscar?” –DAVID EDELSTEIN, New York Magazine

“Director Danny Boyle wrings you out completely with a film so emotionally and intellectually involving that when the horrific last resort finally arrives, it leaves some moviegoers in a faint. And everyone else wondering: Could I possibly do that?...‘127 Hours’ is a nearly solitary tour de force as Franco moves through the various emotional and physical states that desperate straits churn up with such a naturalistic ease it gives the film a documentary feel... In the end, ‘127 Hours’ is one man's incredible, unforgettable journey; it took the extraordinary alchemy of Boyle and Franco to also make it ours.”  --BETSY SHARKEY, Los Angeles Times

“Danny Boyle’s ‘127 Hours’  is a jaunty little exploitation picture with prestige movie cred...you probably already know that James Franco’s character—based on real-life adventure boy Aron Ralston—saws his forearm off with a cheap, not-particularly-sharp multiuse tool, an act of desperation that’s necessary to save his life when he becomes trapped in a claustrophobically narrow Utah canyon. That arduous sawing—it’s more a smooshy kind of hacking, if you want to know the truth—comes near the end of the movie, though it’s also the dramatic centerpiece, the moment we’re all waiting for from minute one. There’s no suspense in ‘127 Hours,’ only anticipation: We know what we’re there for; we just need to hang around to see how it plays out. But damned if Boyle, with the help of his star, doesn’t make the experience almost…cheerful. You might even leave the theater whistling a little tune...As long as you have an idea of what you’re in for, ‘127 Hours’  is more weirdly entertaining than it is grim. As macho challenges go, it’s really just a pussycat.”  --STEPHANIE ZACHAREK, Movieline

“...the year’s most profoundly agonizing entertainment—or is it agonizingly profound? Danny Boyle, recently coronated for the feel-good ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ is back to the adrenalizing craft of ‘Trainspotting’ with this true-life, near-Herzogian tale of impassive nature and hiker Aron Ralston’s confrontation with it...It’s a crazy stunt of a movie, the kind of dare that only Oscar-winners get to blow their goodwill on...You know where this is going (gorily), and to arrive at that moment of sacrifice will take Aron through the heart of his own selfishness, his broken relationships and his aloofness. Paradoxically, this is not a tale about summoning inner strength, but about shedding pride. Sometimes, there’s no choice.”  --JOSHUA  ROTHKOPF, Time Out New York

“Aron is imprisoned in the worst form of solitary confinement: nowhere to move, no one to talk to—except himself, on a phone cam. How does a director create visual variety while keeping moviegoers focused on the awful job at hand?...Boyle addresses the matter exactly as you'd expect, in his patented antic-frantic style: split screens, speedy-cam tours of the terrain, Koyaanisqatsi-like sky vistas. The movie slips into flashbacks, surmises and hallucinations as A.R. Rahman's score and rock-song interludes work hard to distract the viewer with music...But ‘127 Hours’ finds most of its drama in Franco's gaunt, expressive face. His Aron shows desperation but no panic. He slices his challenge into a series of problems to be solved: finding water to sustain him, devising a pulley system to hold him, summoning the guts to set himself free. This is a survival manual turned into an existential prison-break movie; it cuts deep and, at its ecstatic climax, soars high.”  --RICHARD CORLISS, Time Magazine

“This film has disturbingly graphic images, and it presents another challenge for audiences in that for most of the movie, we are confined in the canyon with just one actor, the remarkable James Franco.  But Boyle is such a gifted director that he overcomes the obstacles...‘127 Hours’ is a pointed, double-edged critique of masculinity. Aron was reckless enough to embark on this climbing expedition without telling anyone where he was going, and the film sees that his cocky, independent spirit gives him unusual survival skills. But that lone-wolf mentality also puts him in deadly peril, and the scream that he utters near the end of the film—‘I need help!’--gives voice to his belated awareness of the inadequacy of the Wild West code of self-reliance that stunts so many men. Franco nails this key moment with rare emotional intensity...All of the key creative personnel contribute to the movie's nail-biting tension and unexpectedly moving finale. Ultimately, however, it is the talents of Boyle and Franco that sock this movie home.”  --STEPHEN FARBER, The Hollywood Reporter

“True-life tales of survival are a dime a dozen, but I’ve never seen one anything remotely like Danny Boyle’s dazzling and utterly riveting ‘127 Hours,’ which takes you deep inside the mind of a young man struggling to free himself from a remote Utah cavern...It’s only fair to warn you that it’s clear almost from the outset that Ralston’s only way out is going to require cutting off the now-useless limb...Like all great movies, ‘127 Hours’ takes us on a memorable journey. Which is not easy when 90 percent of the movie takes place with a virtually immobile hero in a very cramped setting. Boyle, who directed the Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ suffuses this film with remarkable energy and visual inventiveness...there’s a palpable spirituality suffusing Franco’s fine performance—when Ralston finally emerges from the cavern with a beatific look on his face, it’s clear this young man found a new appreciation for life. Nothing that Franco has done before will prepare you for his work here...Stunningly photographed by Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak—who repeatedly contrast the claustrophobic cavern and the gorgeous, sweeping vistas outside—‘127 Hours’ is easily one of the year’s best movies.”  --LOU LUMENICK, New York Post

“‘127 Hours’ is directed by Danny Boyle, and while it has some of his signature love of colorfully tricky cinematography and cutting-edge (and bleeding-ear) music, it’s a big change from his last movie, the Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ That movie was set in one of the most crowded slums on earth. This one is set in a vast wilderness. That one was about how one man’s life touched so many experiences. This is about a man who’s always chosen to be alone—and now finds it to be his curse...Some of those metaphors feel forced, particularly as Franco talks to himself, and to us, about how this particular predicament has been waiting for him all his life...The constant hallucinations get a little boring...And audiences who fled ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ during the latrine scene should be warned that Franco’s eventual escape involves a dull knife and a lot of gore. But for all that, this is still a triumphant story. Not of how one person conquered nature, though. But of how he conquered himself.”  --STEPHEN WHITTY, New Jersey Star-Ledger

“Based on Aron Ralston’s 2004 memoir, this story--which is not for the squeamish--follows a guy (James Franco)  who heads to the Utah wilderness, then gets trapped when a boulder falls on his arm. Over six days, he creates a video diary, drinks his own urine, laughs at his recklessness and finally hacks off his limb! Though the film has bloody sections, Franco brilliantly embodies the arrogant but likable Ralston, and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ director Danny Boyle energizes a potentially static story with fast pacing and adrenaline-driven music.”  --THELMA ADAMS, Us Weekly

“Is the film watchable? Yes, compulsively. Films like this don’t move quickly or slowly, they seem to take place all in the same moment. They prey on our own deep fear of being trapped somewhere and understanding that there doesn’t seem to be any way to escape...‘127 Hours’ is like an exercise in conquering the unfilmable. Boyle uses magnificent cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle and Enrique Chediak, establishing the vastness of the Utah wilderness, and the very specific details of Ralston’s small portion of it...Pain and bloodshed are so common in the movies. They are rarely amped up to the level of reality, because we want to be entertained, not sickened. We and the heroes feel immune. '127 Hours' removes the filters. It implicates us. By identification, we are trapped in the canyon, we are cutting into our own flesh.”  --ROGER EBERT, Chicago Sun-Times