One actor, alone on the screen, for nearly 94 minutes. Alone. Stuck.
Does that sound like something you’d like to watch? Does it even seem like a film role you’d like to take on as an actor? It sounds pretty daunting to me. And remember, when Ryan Reynolds was trapped in his own coffin for “Buried,” despite a commendable effort, I was not a fan. So, how does James Franco fare?
Well, British director Danny Boyle delivered “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008, and the film took home the Oscar for best picture. He followed the sweeping romance with an adaptation of the true story of Aron Ralston, a canyoneer who became trapped between a rock and a hard place during a solo trip to Canyonlands National Park of Utah. The film, on video now, is called “127 Hours.”
How does Ralston get stuck for five days? Well, he falls into a ravine and a loose boulder falls with him, landing in such a way that it pins his right arm against the wall of the crater.
Franco is a bit of an enigma for me. He seems to flip-flop between mediocre roles and critically acclaimed performances. For “127 Hours,” he was nominated for best actor, going against the indomitable Colin Firth (who won), former winners Jeff Bridges and Javier Bardem and the fast-talking Jesse Eisenberg.
Frankly, I felt his nomination was a bit of a stretch while I watched the DVD. There isn’t much you can do pinned inside a narrow canyon, especially when you are depicting a true story. I’m not saying he wasn’t believable. He is. In fact, Franco’s best scene is one where he interviews himself with a handheld video camera. He manages to capture tragic introspection and humor all at the edge of delirium.
The worst part of the film is a heavy middle section where only memories, dreams and hallucinations keep the plot moving. I was utterly bored through that section and for that reason — though I’m glad I “met” Aron Ralston — I’m still not a fan.