What is it?
Danny Boyle’s new film about American climber, Aron Ralston, who in 2003 was trapped in a Colorado slot canyon, his right arm pinned between the canyon wall and a boulder he inadvertently dislodged during his passage. The film tracks the small, seemingly inconsequential decisions that brought him to that fateful place and then the 127 hours of his entrapment, as he cycled from disbelief, through alternating dispair and determination and finally towards liberation. The film is to be released today and was premiered last night at Cinema Nova in Carlton. In addition to what proved to be another excellent offering from Boyle, Ralston himself appeared after the film to engage in a memorable Q+A session with the audience.
What did we think?
With a story already well known amongst the general population, at least in a general sense, Boyle was set the film-making challenge of an inevitably predictable plot. However, even having read Ralston’s autobiography, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, we were not prevented from enjoying a film that is well-crafted, honest and engaging. James Franco’s performance is admirable, augmented by Boyle’s directing that simultaneously explores Ralston’s psychological state and intimately relishes his sensory details. Using plenty of close-cropped camera angles, the audience is thrust into the very centre of Ralston’s traumatic, life-changing experience. At times, our eye is in the bottom of his fast-emptying water bottle, at others in the tube through which Ralston drinks his own urine, and still others from the point of view of an ant crawling across the boulder, Franco’s exhausted face filling the entire screen.
What should we learn?
It was perhaps telling that it was Ralston who made the Q+A appearance, not Boyle nor Franco, his comments making it clear that this is not just another film but one with the distinct purpose of sharing his story. He wanted audiences to live it along with him, to understand both the circumstances that lead to his entrapment and the extraordinary mental fortitude that allowed him to liberate himself. Surely here is a man that, when faced with one of life’s many obstacles, need only look at his missing right forearm to understand the true extent of his inner strength.
Ralston is humble, gentle and humorous, the sort of bloke you’d happily have around for a barbecue. And 127 Hours, the film that brings his remarkable story to life, is a beautifully-made, well-acted, moving and ultimately uplifting film. 4 and a half stars.