Film Review: 127 Hours horrifies, but still has heart

Remember the scene from Trainspotting when Ewan McGregor dove headfirst into the filthiest toilet in Scotland to retrieve his opium, seconds after his bowels exploded with diarrhea? 127 Hours is worse than that.

Remember when Maman from Slumdog Millionaire poured acid in that little kid’s eyes to blind him so he could make more money begging on the street? Much worse than that. Remember all of 28 Days Later? Even worse.

            Danny Boyle has quite the talent for capturing the most incredibly disgusting and violent moments of human experience on camera, but his latest film surpasses them all in terms of sheer, visual brutality. His feat is even more remarkable considering that there are no zombies, heroin addicts or Indian gangsters in this movie. Instead, 127 Hours follows the story of one man and an enormous boulder, locked together in a gut-wrenching struggle for survival. At times it was heartbreaking, hilarious and yes, even horrifying.

Based on the true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), 127 Hours chronicles the five days the climber spent with one arm caught under a boulder in the Utah desert, and his miraculous escape – without his arm. Franco gives an authentic performance as the dynamic Ralston, and Boyle’s energetic directing echoes Ralston’s initial vitality.

The agonizing ordeal eventually culminates in a grisly amputation scene, but the minutes leading up to this bloody climax are the poignant highlight of the film. As the days inch by, Ralston slowly loses his appetite for adventure and he is continuously haunted by memories of his family and ex-girlfriend until he finally reaches the most drastic of decisions.

The gory violence on the screen at the end is almost too sickeningly painful to watch – I may have passed out at one point – but it is Ralston’s desperate determination to live, a testament to human resilience, which makes it impossible to look away. The film is not for the faint-of-heart, but it’s certainly worth seeing.