So, what do you do after huge Oscar success for your last movie? Go big budget? Go star-studded? How about the true story of a man that gets trapped alone in the middle of nowhere and must contemplate the unthinkable in order to survive....
Director Danny Boyle's CV is nothing but varied - "Trainspotting" "28 Days Later" "Slumdog Millionaire" - and yet again he doesn't disappoint with his latest - different, demanding and dead good. After the success of last years "Buried" where it was proven that a solitary figure can hold a movie together, "127 hours" thankfully continues this rare form with a morbidly engrossing film.
What makes it work is a combination of Boyle's usual flair and tactics - a fantastic soundtrack (with probably the best ironic use ever of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day"); ingenious editing that at times overloads the senses from it's split screen opening sequence to the frequent "photo moments" as James Franco's Aron Ralston documents both the good and bad times; and of course frequently avoiding cliches and what you'd expect to happen next on the screen.
Franco's portrayal and Boyle's co-scripted screenplay never "hero" what is essentially a human coping with an extreme situation. He is somewhat arrogant in his skills and abilities but it is these that get him into his situation and ultimately out of it. Indeed, it is a fascinating look at the slope into despondency, despair, delirium and eventually determination of the human soul.
One last thing to add - the scene regarding the sacrifice that is made in order to live - with sound and editing, it's like the ear-cuting part of "Reservoir Dogs"... your mind will fill in the blanks to help the film makers achieve cinematic gold. 2011 is off to a great start!
UK release date: 07/01/11