Review - 127 Hours

127 Hours (2010), R, 94 minutes - I'm going to get this out of the way right up front. Despite my recent attempts to format my reviews in a spoiler friendly way, there really isn't any way to do that with 127 Hours so if you're worried about that sort of thing just stop reading now.

Over the last few months, I have heard and read how great a performance James Franco turned in as canyoneer Aron Ralston in this film based on Ralston's experienced being trapped by a boulder in a Utah canyon. As a result, 127 Hours has been on my list of films to check out for quite a while.

I had also heard that the scene in which Ralston finally frees himself from the boulder that trapped him was vary graphic. Now I'm not going to talk big or anything, I don't do well with such material. I can watch war/battle scenes all day long, but as soon as a scene turns even remotely like a surgery (no matter how crude), my stomach turns. Knowing this, I convinced myself I could make it through the scene in question for two reasons: I had been looking forward to seeing this highly talked about performance for a while and it was the final film I needed to watch to have seen all ten 2011 Oscar nominations for Picture of the Year.

So, quick plot line overview: dude goes off canyoneering by himself without telling anyone where it was he was going. He comes across two girls who have managed to get lost on their hike. He delays his plans and plays tour guide for them, still not telling anyone where he was going himself. He parts ways with the ladies and begins his own trek again (descending Blue John Canyon). A boulder gives way beneath him and traps him by pinning his right arm to the canyon wall. After days of being trapped and running out of water, he severs his own arm in order to free himself.

Time for a little 'good news/bad news'. Good news: James Franco does in fact turn in an excellent performance. His transformation from light-hearted canyoneer who didn't panic when trapped and who was pretty damn organized and collected considering the situation to a desperate unhinged man is incredible to watch. 95% of the movie is excellent. Bad news: the 5% that isn't? The few minutes in which Ralston saws off his own arm in order to free himself. I have never felt so sick to my stomach watching a movie in my life. I first tried to just avert my eyes and look at the side of the screen. Then I tried looking at the floor. Finally I had to close my eyes completely. I'm writing this about an hour and fifteen minutes after the movie ended and just thinking about it is making me a bit sick.

Aron Rolstan's story is nothing short of amazing, and Franco's performance is more than worthy of the Best Actor Oscar nomination he received. If you have any interest in a film about the triumph of the human spirit, I recommend checking out 127 Hours. However, if you're even remotely squeamish (like me), do yourself a favor and rent it once it comes out on dvd/blu-ray. At least that way you can fast forward or skip self mutilation scene.

Now with a little luck, having gotten this review out of my system, maybe I'll be able to settle my stomach down enough to eat dinner.


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