I nearly forgot that I’d seen 127 Hours two weeks ago which isn’t exactly a good omen. The film is based on an actual news story that seemed, to be frank, impossible to make into a movie. It’s about an adventurous mountaineer who, alone in a remote area of Utah, manages to get trapped between some rocks for nearly 6 days.
The film stars, almost entirely, James Franco in the only role that matters. It’s Franco who will either make or break the re-telling as there’s really very little to do outside of the experience itself.
The movie is really about the impact that such a traumatic experience has on the mind and how one copes with the seeming impossibility of the situation.
We get a front-row seat into the character’s mind as he contemplates the situation moving through each of the stages of grief along the way. The most comprehensive stages deal with, not surprisingly, depression and acceptance. We’re treated to the thought processes that he experienced and weighed along the way and how those moments carried him to his final choices.
The movie is not for the faint of heart as it includes some pretty gruesome moments. Those who know the news story know what’s coming but even then you’re not really prepared to see it unfold on a huge screen in front of you. Somehow the director manages to pull it all off rather incredibly.
There are elements of the film that seem quirky but in afterthought they’re almost essential to make a singular story element like this work over 90+ minutes. We get lots of split-screen moments and a music score that’s young, frenetic, but fairly unknown.
In the end the film isn’t as memorable as I thought it would have been. It’s really a nearly-impossible task to take such an event and make it compelling over 90 minutes. That the movie does pull this off, for the most part, perhaps is a tribute by itself. Franco also does a remarkable job with the role and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s nominated for the effort.
I do believe that not knowing the original story would have made this all the more interesting and remarkable.