There is that moment for everyone when getting out of the everyday routine and escaping the rules of conformity to experience that greater purpose of life becomes a longing. For 22-year-old Christopher McCandless, the adventure of his dreams lied on the wide open road, experiencing life and beauty by means of total-self sufficiency.Though the journey may have seen a wide array of new sights and new people, Christopher McCandless’ travels would inevitably turn tragic.
“Into the Wild” is the screen adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s bestseller novel of the same name. Written and directed by Sean Penn, this film follows the true story of young McCandless making his way across country to his desired destination of Alaska. Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog) is an impressive young actor whose boyish good looks and kind demeanor help attract the audience to the character of McCandless, especially during the scenes he is interacting with his superficial parents Walt (William Hurt) and Billie (Marcia Gay Harden).
We are introduced to McCandless as he is graduating from Emory University; he is extremely charismatic but longs to escape his life of materialism. He burns all of his identification and social security information then takes to the open road, leaving his parents as complete wrecks when they soon discover their son has disappeared.
While the voyage begins we really aren’t given an opportunity to get to know McCandless as a person aside from this monumental decision he’s made. I would have like to see further character development with Hirsch, I felt as though I was constantly asking myself ‘what is he thinking?’
It was difficult to get into his mental state, and some of the flashbacks with his family were awkwardly timed, with very little explanation behind them. Along the way, McCandless meets an array of interesting people, making friends and connecting to people he meets.
Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn) offers the only comedic relief in the entire film as a grain farmer who briefly employs McCandless; unfortunately his screen time is incredibly brief. There are also a few touching moments between Chris and Jan (Catherine Keener) a fellow “leather tramp,” referred to those who live their life on the road.
The movie runs 150 minutes and offers an array of beautiful scenic shots of the country and lakesides but it slowly loses momentum. This film is for you if are into the wild, meaning the outdoors and scenery.
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