Once stuck, Ralston tries everything: screaming for help, levering the rock, rigging up a rope and pulley. Nothing budges it, and his supplies run dangerously low. It’s cold at night in the canyon, and even during the day he only gets about 15 minutes of sunlight. Delirium sets in with the derth of food, lack of water, and shock: he has vivid dreams of escape, insane hallucations of Scooby Doo, and an epic vision of his future offspring before the end of the film.
Things I love:
James Franco isn’t an exact look-alike, but there are some similarities, and it seems he conveyed Ralston well enough for the subject to give his stamp of approval by appearing at the end of the film. Franco is satisfyingly charming, intense, crazed, furious, and agonized by turns, and moves effortlessly back and forth from Ralston in the present at the start of the film to Ralston in his own memories as he examines pivotal moments in his life to Ralston caught in a canyon. It’s decent, convincing acting. I actually got thirsty, watching him ration his water, and gasped aloud when he knocked over his bottle, spilling a few precious milliliters.
In most cases, the book is better than the movie; in this case, the movie is equally as good, because of the attention to detail. In one scene in the film, Ralston takes a photo of an S-shaped piece of weathered wood stuck in a crevasse, and the photo appears in the book–I can only assume what’s shown on screen is his picture. Clothing, gear, and location all are so frighteningly accurate it must have been difficult for Ralston himself to watch this movie.
Ralston did a daily video diary during his entrapment, and director Danny Boyle worked that in really well; in one scene we watch Ralston watching himself on camera, while in another he can’t stand to look at himself, and watching the two images is odd. In another scene, delirious from lack of food and water, he pretends to interview himself on a morning news show. He’s all Guy Smiley, asking self-deprecating questions about how he ended up in this predicament. The camera foscuses on his camcorder screen for his humble responses, giving the impression that we are the viewer watching him on screen at home. It’s a nifty device.
The music in this film is really kick ass: a mix of grinding rock and mellower jam band-ish sounds. I know Ralston is a huge fan of Phish and the String Cheese Incident, and the music seems carefully chosen to reflect his taste as well as mood, and to convey tone: fun, urgency, pain.