127 Hours (2010)
Director: Danny Boyle
Stars: James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn
The ability to hold an audience’s interest for 94 minutes, despite a film’s single character being immobile for much of the film, is a testament to the filmmaking skill of Danny Boyle and his star, James Franco, who received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Aron Ralston, the canyoneering daredevil at the center of 127 Hours. Based on Ralston’s memoir, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the movie tells the story of his life-or-death ordeal after becoming trapped by a boulder in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park (the film was shot at the exact spot where it happened).
Ralston spent more than five days trapped with only a small amount of food and water plus a pocketknife and a camcorder, which he utilized first as a journal and later as a last will and testament. Realizing that he was going to die, Ralston knew he had just one option to break free: he must amputate his own arm. With a story like that, it’s hard to not go full throttle. Particularly when you’re as daring a director as Boyle (he of Trainspotting fame). But Boyle’s faithful interpretation of the story is completely character-driven… unless you count the amputation scene, which caused dozens of reported faintings in theaters. For his part, Ralston told The Guardian that, “The movie is so factually accurate it is as close to a documentary as you can get and still be a drama.”