Sunday, February 20, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: 127 Hours

127 Hours
Number of Nominations: 6
Categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (James Franco), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song ("If I Rise")
Availability in US: In Theatres (Click for Showtimes)
Trailer: Click for Trailer
Here’s my dilemma: Almost anything I can tell you about the film 127 Hours would have to be considered a spoiler. That said, I believe 99% of audiences who have seen the film knew what they were getting into when they bought their ticket, but in case you want to go in fresh, just skip reviews altogether and go see it now! 127 Hours is a film about survival, endurance, and courage. It is based on the true story of Aron Ralston (Franco), a mountain climber who got his arm trapped under a boulder after a landslide in the middle of a mountain range in Utah. After spending several days out alone in the desert, he is forced to cut off his own arm to escape.

This film is not for the faint of heart. It is short—a mere 94 minutes—and direct, but feels much longer because of the anguish Ralston is experiencing before your eyes. The movie is very well done, with everything, including the graphic arm-cutting scene, having a very realistic feel. When the real Aron Ralston saw the film, he cried, and called it "...so factually accurate it is as close to a documentary as you can get and still be a drama."

James Franco is the reason this film works as well as it does. He brings an authenticity to the role of Aron that few young actors could provide. Of the film’s 94 minutes, about 80 of them are just Franco on the screen by himself, so it was extremely important that he commit to the role, and his Oscar-nominated performance speaks for itself. From the carefree guy we see at the beginning to the desperate, hallucinating man we see by the film's end, Franco makes the whole character arc—and really, the whole film—work.

Though it is an excellent film, 127 Hours seems unlikely to garner any Oscar gold. The film is simply too difficult for many to sit through, and since the Academy voters tend to skew older, it doesn’t quite play to their demographic. Franco is up against some heavy hitters, including Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Jeff Bridges (True Grit) so this probably isn’t his year. It is worth noting that serving as co-host of the ceremony probably doesn’t help his chances; the last time an Oscar co-host was nominated was Paul Hogan for writing 1986’s Crocodile Dundee, which he did not win. If this were any other year, I’d say the screenplay could perhaps compete, but 127 Hours is up against the likes of Aaron Sorkin and those Pixar people, so there’s not much shot there either.
Grade: A

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