British wonder-director was ushered into the collective psyche of Indian cinegoers through "Slumdog Millionaire", Slumdog's global success resulted in Boyle taking on a film which he had been planning for over four years; based on the book "Between a rock and a hard place" by mountaineer Aaron Ralston. The resulting movie was of course, 127 hours.
What it is: 127 Hours recounts the life of adrenaline junkie and free-spirit Aaron Ralston (played by James Franco), who while traversing the canyons in Robber's Roost - Utah, falls into a deep crevice, resulting in his hand getting lodged underneath a boulder. What follows, is a gut wrenching tale of courage, as Ralston desperately tries to dislodge his hand from the boulder; resulting in him spending the titular 127 hours in a mountain crevice! With dwindling food supplies and very little water, Ralston is forced to take the horrendous decision to amputate his lodged arm; things take a turn for the worse when he realises that the pocket knife tool he has carried with with him, is not sharp enough to cut through his arm!
What Works: Danny Boyle described his screenplay as an "action film that goes nowhere". Truly,the plot faces several disadvantages in that it focuses for the most part on one character, and that too stuck in one location; even so, Boyle lets his creative genius shine in this impossible film. At the very onset, we are made to understand Ralston's free-spirit and his willingness to be with nature, as the story progresses on to where Ralston is trapped; Boyle uses innovative cuts to give the viewers a glimpse of Ralston's imagination. This movie, marks the global heralding of actor James Franco who dials in a brilliant performance as the free-spirited Ralston; In a performance where the camera solely focuses on his face, for a major part of the film; Franco brings an easygoing charm, that never lets go of the viewer's attention. Truly, an Oscar worthy performance!
What Doesn't: 127 Hours, is a film that lacks Slumdog's larger-than-life canvas; even though it far vividly portrays the triumph of the human spirit. There have been known cases of audience fainting during the "arm-amputation" sequence - hence if you are the queasy type, be advised!!
Verdict: Film Critic extraordinaire Roger Ebert called 127 hours, "an exercise in impossibility" and I cannot think of a better term to describe this movie, that despite it's constraints, manages to herald the triumph of the human spirit, and in so doing, never once lets go of its vice grip on the viewer's emotions!
A Full Five FreEkies - A modern masterpiece!
Chutney on the side: A.R. Rahman provides a melodious score, but his duet with Dido; tries hard to do an "Enya" from Lord of the Rings but fails!!