The story of Aron Ralston, an adventurer whose misfortune became the center of attention in 2003 when he self-amputated his right arm when it became lodged between a boulder and rock wall, has now been brought to the big screen in one of the most captivating films of 2010: 127 Hours.
The film stars James Franco as the daring adventure-hound Ralston whose seemingly blind ambition eventually catches up with him during a journey into the Utah backcountry. Franco’s portrayal of Ralston is brilliant. The audience literally goes through each and every emotion of the character, starting with his departure from his apartment to his arrival at the park and subsequent journey into the unknown. A myriad of emotions, from laughter to frustration to gut-wrenching sympathy, left me so compelled by the character that it almost felt like I was struggling in the canyon with Ralston.
Franco’s portrayal of Ralston begins with the character preparing for a weekend excursion to Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Upon arrival at the park, Ralston (Franco) takes a short nap in his vehicle before setting out on a 17-mile mountain bike trek to rappel in a remote portion of the park. Along the way, Ralston meets two young ladies who are lost on a trail. Ralston’s cunning intrigue eventually convinces the girls to join him for a thrilling and flirtatious jaunt to a slot canyon where he challenges their sense of rationale by letting go of fear and falling into the unknown. The unknown is actually a pool of water trapped within the slot canyon which, in retrospect, is just one of many ironies throughout the film that develops the emotional connection between the character and the audience.
Ralston eventually departs from his two new friends and continues along his journey, leading to what becomes a harrowing experience between a rock and a hard place for 127 hours. Again, Franco’s performance captivates and draws the audience through a series of emotions that culminates with the removal of Ralston’s arm in an effort that defines the human spirit to survive.