James Franco conveys the true-life story of Aron Ralston, a passionate outdoorsman who survives five-plus days trapped in a crevice with his right arm pinned between boulder and Earth. Director Danny Boyle's filmmaking is unexpectedly creative, using the down time of so much isolation to fill us in on Ralston's personal life via fever dreams and life-flashing hallucinations. Open-hearted and playful on the surface, our mountaineer has plenty of demons. And thus, through a lot of soul-searching, this becomes a life-turning moment for him in more than just a physical sense. The scenes leading up to Ralston's eventual escape (by means I expect you'll already know) are among the most raw, tooth-gritting bits I've ever experienced; truly stirring, hyper-empathic filmmaking. Franco is asked to do a lot with very little help, acting solo for a good 75% of the film, and he blossoms, flashing acting chops that I didn't know he had in him. We see desperation, fury, defeat, mania, regret and much more, often through expression and physical acting alone, and it all comes across as absolutely genuine. Not as deep and enveloping as Into the Wild, as existential as The Grey or as flashy as Gravity, it safely finds its own unique nook in the survival subgenre and stands on those merits.