Tuesday January 11, 2011

127 Hours (Movie review), Director: Danny Boyle

Posted by Karthik

“The film has a story that can be summed up in one sentence on the back of an envelope.”

Next time you see that sentence or its cousins and nephews in a film review, mentally kick the reviewer. The truth is, most films’ stories can indeed be written in a sentence on the back of an envelope. It is all about how the screenplay is crafted. From that perspective, to be absolutely honest, I was massively skeptical about 127 Hours. After all, the whole world knows that it is about a ‘guy who gets stuck in a canyon and cuts his arm to get out’.

What can you do with that? How can someone engage audiences with a single sentence like that? Wouldn’t it be predictable? These were my arrogant thoughts before I saw the film.

But, as the movie progressed, what was going in my mind was something very different. It was precisely this…

“127? How many days is that? 25 X 4 is 100. No, 25 X 5 is 125…remove 5 from it since it is only 24 hours per day…Jesus, it is 5 days and 7 hours!”

That is where Boyle wins…convincingly!

The fall I had been waiting for happens quite early in the film. Between the fall and the eventual escape, there are so many stages that Boyle and his screenplay partner Simon Beaufoy set that you truly understand the amazing thought that has gone into this highly imaginative film.

I was sure Boyle would enter surreal territory since he has shown signs of using it brilliantly in the past. But the way he emplpoys the surreal elements in 127 Hours is incredibly original and mesmerizing. Add to that, there is precisely one jump-in-your seat moment in all of this film and that involves Scooby Doo, quite cleverly!

James Franco is thoroughly convincing as the youngster who goes from brash arrogance to painful realization of his awkward condition. He relies only on his expressions for most of the film since that is largely what we end up seeing all through. Some of the best expressions include the scene where he watches his new friends in his video camera as they talk to the camera after a splash in the underground pool he showed them and pauses the shot where one of them is getting out of the water with a clear view of her cleavage. James’ expectant, helpless expression as he talks to himself trying to dissuade himself from what his body asks him to do is almost poetic!

The other masterly staged scene is that of the talk show! That is proof enough for Boyle’s superb imagination and the way it has been executed is mind-bogglingly touching.

The film’s soundtrack is the only other lead character besides James. The choice of songs is fabulous and some of Rahman’s original pieces are used to incredible effect. But I was really disappointed that the pulsatingly dramatic finale of ‘R.I.P’ was not featured anywhere in the film.

Having seen a similar film like this (The Canyon – hugely underrated, for the right reasons since people in the film make some amazingly stupid decisions that goes against common sense, but something that I still liked a lot, for sheer grit!), I was under the impression that there will not be much to this film, as I explained earlier in this review.

I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Poster from IMDb.

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