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127 Hours (2010)

Every Second Counts

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 94 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

127 hours is one of those films that’s hard to sell. What’s it about? It’s about a guy who cuts his own arm off. Oh, nice. In the hands of Danny Boyle though, this tale of  deep rooted commitment to live is so much more, it actually ends up being life affirming.

This is the true story of Aron Ralston (Franco), a daredevil mountain climber, who went for a little spot of canyoning but came back missing an arm. Soon after setting off Aron meets and frolics with two female climbers (Mara and Tamblyn) and all seems well but as he continues his solo adventure he falls down a canyon and an unmovable boulder traps his arm. Problem is, because Aron is a bit of an independent man, he didn’t tell anyone where he was going, therefore he knows that help is not on its way. After five days of of trying every conceivable way to get out, he was forced to cut off the trapped hand to make an escape.

This synopsis could be counted as a bit of a spoiler and you could go to the cinema just waiting for the big hand choppy moment but Boyle’s movie is all about the journey to this point. What goes through somebody’s mind when stuck alone for so long and what kind of emotional and physical struggle would someone have to go through before contemplating such an act? Significantly, it is the hugely impressive performance of James Franco in the lead that makes the movie – he had to be good, as essentially it is just him, us and a camera for the majority of the film. Franco movingly portrays a whole range of emotions always simmering below the point of hysteria, as Aron’s character has been so assembled over the opening carefree scenes, that you wouldn’t expect him to all-out panic in that kind situation.

Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire proved that Boyle knows how to use a soundtrack to maximum effect and 127 Hours is no exception with an energetic indie soundtrack punctuated with poignant silences just in the right places. It’s little touches like this that stop the movie descending into grim melodrama and keep the energy up. Alongside the spectacular cinematography, everything comes together in one outstanding package.

It's Got: A superb performance from Franco, awesome soundtrack, beautiful cinematography

It Needs: To be sold not as 'that guy who cut his arm off' but as an inspirational tale of human survival


With spectacular cinematography, an awesome soundtrack and a superb performance by James Franco, Danny Boyle gives us an inspiring, life-affirming movie from the most unlikely of stories.