Sunday, December 02, 2007

Into The Wild

Based on the non-fictional bestseller, "Into The Wild" is the story of Chris McCandless, a college graduate who leaves behind a privileged life for one of self discovery and adventure. Sean Penn has adapted the screenplay and directs the film.

Not having read the book, I can offer no comparison and just take the film at its own worth. After graduating, Chris decides to drop out of society and go off on his own journey across America, ultimately to Alaska. He changes his name and ceases any communication with his family. The people he encounters and his own self discovery form the basis of the film, recreated by his journals and the memory of those who knew him.

Visually the film is breathtaking with many of the Western states and Alaska providing the natural background for the story. Songs and music by Eddie Vedder compliment the story perfectly. As Chris, Emile Hirsch does his best work to date, in a physically and emotionally demanding role. The film also stars Hal Holbrook, Vince Vaughn, and Catherine Keener as the people Chris meets and impact his life. In addition, Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt play Chris's parents and Jenna Malone, his sister.

Mr. Penn charts Chris's journey with love and affection for the character. But in the end, "Into The Wild" is not a celebration but rather just an observation of one man's life. It is ultimately a sad story but not as haunting as it might have been.

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