127 Hours (2010)
Danny Boyle


127 HoursLest we fail to notice that the time period mentioned in the title of Danny Boyle’s latest refers to the gestation period before the spiritual and quasi-physical rebirth of the protagonist Aron Ralston (James Franco), the director showcases him emerging out of the vaginal cave, in a diminished stature, with his representative umbilical cord severed, struggling to walk and talk and, hang on, suckling on a metallic hook affixed to the ground. That 127 Hours turns out to be a terrific film despite Boyle’s periodic middle brow tendencies is emblematic of the schizophrenic nature of his sensibility, which so wildly swings from adolescent camp and calculated profundity, wherein, surprisingly, even strained poetry soars. Opening portentously with staccato shots of Aron’s right hand, which becomes a MacGuffin later on, 127 Hours follows Ralston’s five-day encampment at nature’s existential purgatory, where realistic emotions become absurd and absurd emotions the only valid ones and where freedom of the mind compensates for physical imprisonment. Aron is like the audience in a film hall whose material reality casts no influence on their psychological state. Likewise, Boyle’s film startlingly segues midway into a heady reflection on digital culture, in which history, memory and even real people are replaced by pop images, in which identities are split in order to deny reality and in which death is but a smudge in the recording. The correct genre to classify Boyle’s film is Erotica – with Anthony Dod Mantle’s camera probing the tanned skin and caressing the sensual curves of the landscape – in which man’s ceaseless love affair with nature both humbles and inspires him. (Aron’s manoeuvres through the canyon and his first attempts to free himself themselves resemble copulation, making him the father of his new self). But aren’t all these philosophical games ultimately exploitative? I think the film’s eventual humanism answers that question.