New user? Register here:
Email Address:
Retype Password:
First Name:
Last Name:
Existing user? Login here:

127 Hours

Jeremy Clarke

Directed by Danny Boyle
­­­­Certificate 15, 93 mins


The trailer for 127 Hours gives a pretty good impression of its first third. The experienced, youthful and single outdoor explorer Aron Ralston (James Franco) mountain bikes through the Utah landscape, meets a couple of girls and shows them an incredible underground lake, continues on his merry solo way until, rock climbing, he slips down a crevasse where a falling boulder pinions his wrist...trapping him for the eponymous period and the rest of the film.

Where Buried relentlessly encased its leading man in a coffin from opening to closing frame, 127 Hours not only starts off in wide open landscapes but also punctuates its narrative with memory flashbacks, dreams and visions. Thus, when you see Aron freeing himself you're not initially sure as to whether he's actually doing so or merely imagining it in his head. This provides space to deal with the transcendent in a way that Buried didn't. If the latter is a horror movie, 127 Hours starts off as outdoor adventure then veers into the question: If you knew for certain you were going to die, what would you want to do with the ever decreasing amount of time you had left? And if you were trapped somewhere without human contact, what would your mind do, where would it wander?

It's almost as if a serious drama about the values of someone alone with a terminal illness has been recast as an easily saleable Hollywood action movie. Except of course that Boyle is not a Hollywood director. If his previous film Slumdog Millionaire scooped Academy Awards, it did so from a US industry that had earlier written that film off as unsaleable, straight to video fodder.

Aron lives life at such breakneck speed that in a frantic search through apartment cupboards he not only misses an essential piece of kit that might later have helped him escape but also lacks time to phone his mum who's left a message on his answering machine. Later, however, once trapped, he's thinking about the two girls he met. He imagines himself attending the party to which he was invited. He recalls an orgy in the back of a van, the girlfriend with whom he split up, his parents. He imagines a wife and child (or are they telepathically reaching out to him from the future?).

In other words, he's thinking about community and his relationship with other human beings - and how he's screwed it up. It's true he scarcely prays and is somewhat self-obsessed, yet once Aron becomes isolated within his slot canyon, he perfectly illustrates Donne's dictum, 'No man is an island'. It's a post Me-Decade story, where I am only important insofar as my life touches the lives of others. And, as such, unexpectedly transcendent and profoundly moving.

Jeremy Clarke