The film takes us through this sympathetic and quite heart-wrenching experience, portrayed superbly down to every nerve, or should I say right down to the last excruciating and exhausting nerve, by James Franco. I must say he is magnificent in his close-up and extremely convincing performance which is both overwhelming yet exciting, playing an apprehensive Ralston as an adventurous junkie and sociable lonesome wonderer. After hours of frantic screaming, attempts to tug free with wasted shoving, filming of his time down there and trying to last on miniscule amounts of water and food, he is faced with one of the “tough decisions” that I am pretty sure none of us ever want to face, the choice to either amputate your own arm off with a blunt and dirty knife or lay there to starve to death. It is always tough to leave something of ours behind but an arm? that is by far the toughest.
The character of Ralston is firstly established as a ‘love life’ sort of guy, zooming along dusty orange trails, supported by a beautiful backdrop. Once Ralston has an encounter with two attractive female hikers, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) who later on wouldn’t mind climbing into his pants at a party later that night that they promise Ralston, part of his reckless charm begins to develop when he takes the girls through a gap between 2 walls. He leaves the girls with “all you have to remember is that everything will be ok” before he plunges down into a pool of magnificent bright turquoise water surrounding by shelters of caves. Their level of adrenaline adds to the excitement and fear to then drop slithering down the rocks. Whilst on a high of adrenaline and joy from the female hikers, he struts off to continue his canyon journey.
This is the part where he becomes trapped, you watch him relive his past memories with lovers, friends and family and become to mentally challenge himself, to stay sane. Boyle brilliantly had a sense of Blair-witch style cinema verité filming himself and his experience down there, along with loving messages to his mother. Personally, at this point especially I felt such warmth and sympathy for this man, not just that he is stuck alone with a rock crushing his forearm, but the fact that he wouldn’t get to say goodbye, he didn’t tell anyone he was there, he is alone and thinking about his past, his regrets but also having a premonition of having a young boy if he gets out. You really feel for him, you feel with him, that his sense of masculinity and strength is being scratched away to leave us looking at this scared little boy inside. Reciting his life and the thought that everything led him to this moment; that was quite emotional, feeling that he thinks he deserves it for his selfish ways that he looks back on.
Overall result would have to be 9/10. An overwhelming cinema experience fantastically brought across by Boyle and Franco, in all aspects of film and emotion. Only downfall would be the split screens in the middle and beginning of the film, some look good but others looked too 'busy' and my eyes were everywhere.