Posts Tagged ‘Danny Boyle’

16th February
2011
written by Mad Cow

Rated: R for language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images

Mad Cow’s rating:

The challenges to Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (also co-writer of Slumdog…) were to create suspense in a movie in which everyone knows what’s going to happen and there is not only just one character but he literally stays in the same place for the bulk of the film. Boyle succeeded quite well in this story of crisis, life, freedom and redemption.

In 2003 a young, energetic climber, Aron Ralston (James Franco), set out alone to explore the canyons of Utah, without telling anyone where he was going. Familiar with the territory and full of confidence in himself and life, he forged ahead to add another exhilarating adventure to his repertoire of solo climbing and other athletic endeavors. This time, though, nature had something else in store for him, a boulder that slipped while he climbed down a narrow canyon, pinning his arm.

In his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Alston described the 127 hours he spent trying to dislodge the rock, speaking into his video camera and eventually cutting off his arm to save his life. With music (really), flashbacks, hallucinations, and occasional three-part screen showings, Boyle and Franco keep our interest during the 93 minutes of the movie.

Franco is superb as a slightly arrogant but likeable young man out to enjoy the incredible beauty of the world and the physicality of himself. Friendly but basically a loner, he tests and also communes with nature. On whatever level, the viewer can relate to his exuberant enjoyment and then his astonishment at being caught. Boyle and Franco then take us on a different expedition of physical challenge.

Alston engages in introspection that is subtlely introduced with brilliant restraint. He is an observant guy, as shown in his videotaping and pictures of all things that catch his interest. One can see that he not a stranger to himself. He tries to be honest in his video messages, speckled with mocking despair, but he does not become a poet in his verbal efforts. He’s still a young guy whose life has been about adventure. Franco manages to remain in character without trivializing Ralston’s situation. He’s not a philosopher. Aron is a guy whose life revolved around responding to challenges and this is how he attempts to solve this problem.

Anyone who has ever had their circumstances change in a split second can share how universal denial keeps us moving on and how we can be brought up short in the midst of it. This movie is a reminder of this and also asks us whether each of us would be able or willing to cut off an arm in order to live – or have a chance to live.

The film is not for the faint-hearted. Some people have fainted during the movie and others during Alston’s speeches. I planned ahead not to look at the hard parts and I didn’t, although the sound effects were harder to avoid. Ironically, Alston is free now to spend a great deal of time climbing because he is making a lot on the lecture circuit. But lest you think that he has revealed all, know that he really did make a video of his ordeal while it was happening. It’s in a bank vault and has been viewed by only a few people. We can be grateful that Boyle and Franco got to see it.