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Gross. That’s the first word I’d use to describe the Best-Picture-nominated film version of Aron Ralston’s survival story. He’s the climber who eventually had to cut off his own arm after becoming trapped between a boulder and the wall of a slot canyon, running out of water, and doing what he must to survive. There are many things to like about this movie, including beautiful shots of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park and a strong performance by James Franco. Ralston’s will to live is the real story here, but, at least in the movie version, he finds that self-reliance is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Viewers spend most of the movie dreading the coming amputation—and for good reason. This might have been a movie I could recommend, had the amputation been more circumspect, but it was so gruesome. Director Danny Boyle has proven in previous films (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) that he doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the story.

The last portion of the movie, after Ralston has freed himself, is joyful relief. If you are inclined to look for such things, you can find the story of a not-exactly-chaste man who is alone in darkness, trapped by his own mistakes, has brief glimpses of light, then leaves behind his old self, literally. He finds that he cannot do it all on his own, and he reaches out for someone to save him, to bring him to new life. If you’re still interested in watching, I suggest you see it at home, away from your children, with your finger firmly planted on the fast-forward button. Available on disc now. (Fox Searchlight)

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