(Danny Boyle, 2010, USA)
It was always going to be interesting to see where Danny Boyle would next focus his unpredictable directorial talents after the overwhelming success story that was Slumdog Millionaire back in 2009. As with many an Oscar-winner, he could have bent to the lavish budgets and screenplays that was surely offered to him the second he bagged both the Best Director and Best Motion Picture Academy Awards, thus becoming a slave to the domineering force that is Hollywood and relinquishing the singular voice that has won him his much deserved acclaim. But Boyle is not like that, he is a filmmaker that has continuously (and successfully) jumped from genre to genre, lending his films the verve and dynamism he has become known for, whilst continuing to bring audiences unique and challenging stories that confront expectation and define tenacity.
Unsurprisingly, Boyle has shunned the predictable and gone back to his roots with 127 Hours, the true story of a man quite literally stuck between a rock and a hard place (which coincidentally is the name of the book on which the film is based). James Franco gives a bravado performance as Aron Ralston, a cocksure adrenaline junkie who goes mountain climbing in the sun-blessed climes of an isolated canyon in Utah. An infectiously bold character, Aron makes quite an impression on two female amateur mountain climbers, who warm to his sense of daring and spontaneity yet part ways just before a fallen boulder crushes his arm and traps him in a secluded crevice. With only a blunt knife, a limited supply of water and a camcorder for company, Aron lasts an extraordinary 6 days of desperation and near-insanity before resorting to desperate and, by now, somewhat legendary measures to escapes his doomed fate.
For me a far better film that Slumdog, 127 Hours is a triumphant and exhilarating film that rivals even Boyle’s best work, which still remains the unsurpassed Trainspotting. With what could be seen as fairly slim material, Boyle justifies the 94 minute runtime by filling his film with his customary vim and vigour, refusing to diminish the focus on Franco who’s performance does more than justify his Best Actor nomination at this year’s Oscars. Coupling giddy visions with flashbacks draped in sentiment, the strengths of 127 Hours is its ability to keep the viewer ensconced in the action, even when some scenes stem from subtle comedy, when Aron stages a make believe chat show interview, to the shockingly realistic depiction of amateur amputation in the films dénouement. A. R. Rahman’s plucky, delirious score is also used to strong effect, injecting the film with its much needed heart and pathos, which is matched by the somewhat cheesy but nevertheless unpredictable finale.
Danny Boyle’s latest film deserves to be seen by in droves, regardless of your nervous disposition, and yet again audience’s must now wait with baited breath for the next instalment in his impressive oeuvre.