By Willie Krischke — January 15, 2011
If the U.S. Government ever, for some crazy reason, wants to make a movie about life in Guatanamo Bay, Danny Boyle ought to be the first director they call. What a filmography: first Boyle make heroin addiction look pretty sweet. Then he made being a homeless orphan in one of the world’s poorest countries look terribly fun and exciting. Now, with “127 hours,” he makes Aaron Ralston’s story about getting pinned down by a boulder for 5 days and then hacking his arm off to survive seem like a nice way to take some time and reflect on one’s life direction and goals.
Everyone knows the story by now, as Ralston was on every morning, afternoon, and late night talk show after he published his book a few years ago. It hardly seems like the kind of book that would make a good movie. But “127 Hours” never drags or feels boring – even when it seems like it should, maybe, a little. I mean, the guy spent 5 days in isolation, pinned down by a rock. Shouldn’t we feel the passage of time, the growing sense of desperation, at least a little bit? But Boyle goes to great lengths to keep things moving. There are split screens, Nalgene-cams, dream sequences, memories, hallucinations, fake talk shows, thumping techno music; every trick in the director’s book(except sex and car crashes, and we almost get those, too) to keep the audience attention from wandering for a second is in heavy use here.
It’s entertaining. It’s fun. It’s a certain kind of virtuoso directing. And definite kudos to James Franco — it’s not easy being the only actor on the screen for 98% of a film, but he pulls it off nicely. But “127 hours” isn’t very deep, or moving, and while it might get all the facts right, it’s hard to believe that it’s truthful. Aaron Ralston’s actual experience must have been quite different, without Danny Boyle around to spice things up.