PLOT: The true story of a hiker who sacrificed a limb to save his life.
BOTTOM LINE: A compelling, fast-moving and surprisingly funny tale of survival.
CAST: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Treat Williams
WHEN/WHERE: Playing at Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas; Cinema Arts Centre, Huntington; Malverne Cinema 4
By now you've read enough about "127 Hours" to know that it's the true story of Aron Ralston, an outdoorsman who in 2003 hacked off his right arm with a pen knife to survive. Perhaps you've also read that viewers fainted, vomited and experienced seizures at early screenings. Of course you want to see it! But can you handle it?
You'll squirm at the very least, but it might comfort you to know that the first reported casualty, at the Telluride Film Festival, actually had altitude sickness. It's also worth noting that subsequent stories of collapsing moviegoers came from a source with good reason to publicize the film: Ralston himself.
Ralston has a mischievous sense of humor (one chapter in his memoir is titled "A Farewell to Arm") and it's partly what makes him, as played by James Franco, such good company in this one-man survival tale. He is an amiable young thrill seeker, a constant blur atop a speeding mountain bike. Life stops him short in Utah's Blue John Canyon, where Ralston lands in a crevasse with his arm pinned beneath an immovable boulder.
Director Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") uses his camera to go everywhere Ralston can't during the next five days: back in time, back home, back to the car for a cold Gatorade. We also delve straight into the red center of Ralston's blackening arm.
More important, "127 Hours" penetrates Ralston's mind, which contains a collection of touchingly mundane memories (parties, girls, Christmases) and modest hopes (a future, a family). For all the hype surrounding the film, its sense of understatement is what makes it so compelling.