Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) is in Oscar-form once again with his dramatic telling of mountain climber Aron Ralston, who became trapped by a boulder in Utah for five days back in 2003. By now, we all know the true story of how Ralston ended up amputating his forearm to set himself free. So, it's an amazing feat by Boyle to create an engaging action film where the subject is alone and trapped -- especially one where we already know the ending. Boyle excels in pulling it off -- but there are plenty of accolades to go around.
James Franco (Milk) is excellent as Ralston, the loner who tells no one where he is going before his hike, while packing a bag with only limited supplies. He's pumped up for an exciting solo adventure -- but has some side fun before setting off on his main mission. Kate Mara (Brokeback Mountain, Shooter) and Ambler Tamblyn (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) play two pretty hikers Ralston meets before the accident. The short meeting showcases Ralston's captivating energy and fun spirit -- but also highlights his ultimate drive to be one with nature as they part ways.
Then it's on to the accident -- where Franco truly earns the Oscar nomination that lies ahead for him. He's somehow able to believably convey the fear, strength, determination, imagination and gut-wrenching realization that Ralston dealt with during those five days. How Ralston was able to keep his sense of humor intact and his mind sharp enough to rescue himself -- even after severe dehydration, hunger and hallucinations set in -- is nothing short of a miracle.
Boyle proves past success was not fleeting -- as the filmmaker pulls together a great story (he co-wrote with his Slumdog Millionaire Oscar-winning screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy) -- along with superb acting, camera work, film editing and score. Sure, you may have to look away at the critical point in the story, but that's okay -- I did. And it won't diminish the overall effect -- a truly inspirational story of survival. [Rated R; opens wider today and nationwide November 24]
- Watch a short interview with Aron Ralston here.
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