In all honesty, given that my previous experience with a Danny Boyle film was Trainspotting, I pegged him as a very pessimistic director. This film, however, showed me the great deal of faith and positivity he has in humanity, the polar opposite of Trainspotting’s ideal of horrible people doing horrible things. Here, James Franco (yes, that prick) portrays a canyoneer named Aron Ralston, who goes into the desert alone and gets trapped in a canyon by a rock. A majority of the film is just Franco struggling in the canyon, with flashes of his past and dreams he has thrown in. Essentially, we’re viewing a one-man-show, which is one of the hardest acts to pull off in film. That Franco succeeds, and doesn’t make you want to punch him, is a testament to the skill he has as an actor that he NEVER DEMONSTRATES ANYWHERE ELSE! This is also helped by Boyle’s direction. Fast edits, different perspectives, digital glitches, the use of other camera types; these are all choices that make the action all the more dynamic. This, of course, is helped by the limiting scope of the story. He makes the film as claustrophobic as he can in order to bring us into Aron’s dilemma. The graphic ending is pure Boyle, but the ending as a whole is not. In fact, compared to Boyle’s other films, specifically Trainspotting, it seems like he is someone else. The third act is not just the dealing with the struggle of being stuck between a rock and a hard place (I now hate myself for typing that), but with his entire attitude of other people.This is a one-man-show for a reason. The greater and more significant journey in this film is Aron understanding the need for help and for others. And that is where Franco shines in his role (as unbelievable as that idea is). The scene where he records himself on his camera acting like it is a morning talk show is probably the scene that best sums this film up. After all,”Because you’re such a big, fucking hero, you didn’t tell anyone you were coming out here. Oops.” (As spoken in the film) When optimism seems at a premium in film, or media as a whole, a tale as powerful as this with such a hopeful outlook is all the more worthwile.
Directed by Danny Boyle