There are a ton of ways this story could have been told, and there are a ton of ways this film could have been directed. And Danny Boyle went with one that, to me, implicates what directing feature films is all about. Boyle took what could have been a plain old psychological thriller vaguely reminiscent of a biopic, wove a true artistic vision into it, and created an incredible movie. 127 Hours is, without question, one of the most spectacularly directed films I've ever seen.
If you're not already familiar with the story of Aron Ralston, I urge you not to do any research before you see the movie. Just watch it and see what happens. If you are familiar, you know what ends up happening and all you can do is tear your hair out until it finally does. 127 Hours tells the true story of what happened to Ralston when he slipped and fell into a canyon for five straight days, pinned down by an unmovable boulder.
Ralston is played by James Franco. Until this movie I've liked Franco, but never before understood what he's capable of. This is because I've seen him in predominately comedies, and the Spider-Man franchise. His performance in 127 Hours is indescribable. I read one review that noted his performance as one of the greatest "of all time". I don't know if I'm willing to make a grandiose statement like that, but I'm certainly willing to think about it.
As I said, Danny Boyle's direction, along with the camera work of Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle, is truly visionary. It's fantastically fresh take in film, and it centers on one location in a wonderfully interesting way. Boyle's not one of those directors who picks up a script and decides to film exactly what it says in it without giving it any real artistic thought. This movie is something Boyle clearly had a vision for. The tension in 127 Hours sent me into absolute panic.
This is a short review as there really isn't a lot more I can say, and I don't want to talk at all about the plot. This stands with Inception and The Social Network as one of the best movies of the year in my opinion. And if Boyle isn't nominated for Best Director, I will personally push every single member of the Academy into an isolated Utah canyon. We'll see what they think about Boyle's direction then.