Review: 127 Hours (2010)

Note: This post contains a portion of a review originally written for CaryCitizen.  To read the full review, click here.

Welcome to awards season.

It’s December, the time of year when studios release the films they think are most likely to win Oscars so that they’ll be fresh in the minds of Academy voters come February.  This past weekend saw the wide release of 127 Hours, the new film from Danny Boyle, the Academy Award-winning director behind 2008′s Best Picture winner, Slumdog Millionaire. Expect to hear big awards speculation about this one in the months to come, particularly in regards to its star performance.

Based on true events, the film follows nature enthusiast Aron Ralston (James Franco) as he literally gets stuck between a rock and a hard place in the canyons of Robbers Roost, Utah after a boulder falls on his arm.  With a rapidly depleting water supply and very little space to move, he struggles to survive over the course of the next five days.  If you’re familiar with Ralston’s story, you know the lengths to which he goes in order to make it out of his bedrock prison.  Suffice to say that Boyle delivers some of the eeriest and most unique sound foley work of the year during “the scene,” and you should expect to be squirming in your seat for a few minutes.

Franco drives the film.  Aside from a couple of briefly-met coeds in the first twenty minutes, this is a one man show.  Don’t be surprised to see his name getting thrown around come Oscar time; his performance could very well be nomination-worthy.  Where other actors might be tempted to take their portrayals to an extreme, filled with tears and screaming and despair, Franco holds back.  His depiction of Ralston is one of calm collectedness, even in the face of almost certain death.  He finds the right time to inject humor into the proceedings, even as his character slides into madness, but he never loses sight of his character’s main coping mechanism: detachment.  Even before his fateful encounter with the rock, when interacting with others, he is never quite fully present.  He is distant and guarded, unwilling to let anyone get too close lest they interrupt his love affair with Mother Nature.

Read the rest of the review at CaryCitizen.