James Franco is amazing in the fact-based story of an adventurer who becomes trapped under a boulder while rock climbing alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) does an incredible job taking what is mostly a one-person story and making it wider without ever losing focus. The film is powerful, moving and genuinely thought-provoking, but be warned – some people have had some severe physical reactions to the scene depicting the "desperate measures."
Franco plays Aron Ralston, a charismatic soul who doesn't just step to the beat of a different drummer, he dances to it while videotaping himself and grinning at naysayers. The actor does a wonderful job presenting Ralston as a full-fledged human being and not a victim-in-waiting.
Danny Boyle opens the movie with a segment depicting an encounter between Ralston and two young women (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) that establishes his rakish charm. Boyle incorporates flashbacks and hallucinations as well, but you never get the sense that he's struggling to balance out the intense alone time. He displays the same confidence helming the film that Ralston does living his life.
I was concerned that watching 127 Hours would be an endurance test, but it isn't. The movie celebrates living with exuberance, daring and determination. It celebrates being strong enough to keep going, even when faced with mind-boggling challenges. It's a corker of a film and well-deserving of your time.
(For more on this film, see Jim Poyser's blog, A ringside seat at the end of the world: 127 Hours.)