Based on a true story, 127 Hours is written and directed by Danny Boyle, following Aron Ralston (James Franco), a mountain climber canyoneering alone in the Blue John Canyon in Utah. After meeting two girls on his journey, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn), Aron becomes trapped immovably under a boulder, too far into the canyon for anybody to hear his echoing pleas of help. Without telling anybody where he has gone for the weekend, Aron is equipped only with his self-confidence and a cheap pocketknife that is too blunt to cut through anything of use. Desperately low on water and out of food, Aron must resort to stomach-churning measures in order to survive, doing all he can to relieve himself from the boulder that is slowly taking away his life.
To break up the long hours of unnerving pain, Boyle focuses on Aron’s thoughts, both rational and delusional. As the days pass and Aron slowly chips away at the boulder, we see flashbacks revealing relationships from the life that he is now missing and coming to terms with; romantic scenes with his ex-girlfriend and his ignorance towards his parents; even more emotional is the vision of his son who does not yet exist, but who helps him in his final struggles to get out alive. These tear-jerking insights fit around the gruelling scenes of survival to give a brilliant balance between emotions as we follow the story through Aron’s camcorder and also Franco’s outstanding performance.
As well as being amazingly crafted and visually compelling, Boyle doesn’t reimagine any of the scenes; shockingly, everything is based on complete facts. In interviews, Boyle has indicated that the film’s meaning is that it made Ralston a better person; he learned that he couldn’t do everything by himself and that he should swallow his pride and ask for help a little more. If anything, it has definitely put me off climbing for life.
Although a little slow at the start, carrying with it the threat of endlessly watching a man struggle for 127 hours straight, 127 Hours evolves into a truly relatable and moving story. The contrast of one minute wanted to be sick, the next sitting tensely at the edge of your seat and then ending with a lump in your throat is one not expected, but one that leaves you quite in awe of Boyle’s efforts and with an optimistic image of Aron Ralston’s story in your head.