|Into the Wild (HD DVD, 2008) (HD DVD, 2008)|
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Sean Penn's new movie Into the Wild arrives on the wave of a well-regarded novel about a college graduate who decides that the anger and violence in civilized society is too much to handle and commences a journey through nature in order to truly live life as it was meant to be. This film is a wonderful glimpse into the life of a kid, wise beyond his years, and the bonds that he creates with people along the way. A victim of excess in wealth and a shortage of love, Christopher McCandless hid inside his mind behind knowledge and philosophy, building up his intellectual strength, as well as the physical, in order to complete his trek, ultimately leading him to Alaska. Penn never falls into the trap of showing too much heartbreak on the side of McCandless's parents, because he doesn't want the audience to second-guess the decision he made. There is no debate to be had here, our protagonist has no alternative but to get out and live off the land. Only being completely self-sufficient can he grasp a meaning for his life and one day perhaps go back with that knowledge fully learned.
Emile Hirsch is absolutely brilliant with his good-natured attitude and affable charm. His character believes that human contact is not necessary for happiness and never seeks out relationships. However, his character is so likable that they find him and latch on, not to change his mind, but to experience his level of being and hopefully learn something from him and help enlarge his vocabulary on life. The people he meets help him to fully grasp the decision of life in the wild and be able to survive it. Never coming off condescendingly to those he crosses paths with, Hirsch always holds a smile on his face. One scene, where he meets up with a couple of people from Europe, proves how contagious a clear outlook on life without the troubles of societal restraints can be. These three kids have a blast, if only for a few minutes—with Hirsch being chased by the police for rafting with no license—and it makes one wonder if maybe we all should take a journey into nature and feel the freedom and full warmth of heart that a lack of stress to succeed in the business world can give.
All the supporting players are magnificent at helping show the side to McCandless that Penn needs on display to succeed. Hal Holbrook, Brian Dierker, and Catherine Keener are by far the best of these side characters with Vince Vaughn and Kirsten Stewart adding some charm too. Dierker, Keener, and Stewart play hippie, flower-child type roles and allow Hirsch to show off how modest and unselfish he is. This is the family he deserved to have from birth and he is the son they wished their lives had earned them. At their best, all four together give some of the most emotionally charged moments in the film. Holbrook, on-the-other-hand, helps give insight into the philosophy that Hirsch needs to live with in order to survive the loneliness, looking him in the face, to come in Alaska. It is truly fascinating to see how every person adds something to his overall experience and to the tools he needs.
Hirsch deserves a lot of credit because he truly outshines the film itself with his dedication and sacrifice to the role. The length of time needed to allow him the ability to lose the weight necessary for a main plot point in the movie is crazy. If the time wasn't that long and Hirsch did it all rapidly, I'm even more impressed. With all that, there are many instances free of dialogue that he needs to
Sean Penn directs this film about a young man from an affluent family who feels uncomfortable with society and hits the road hobo style after graduation from college. He eventually leaves civilization behind and heads into the wilds of Alaska to experience his greatest adventure yet, living off the land with the help of a .22 rifle he purchased. Based on a non fiction book by Jon Krakauer of the same name, the movie follows the story of Chris McCandless using quotations from his journal and relationships with people he meets along the way to peer into the mind of an intelligent yet troubled youth. The obvious question, "is he mentally ill?" is never answered but evidence is presented. "You live here in the dirt?" asks Hal Holbrook's character. On another occasion he helps a middle age couple over relationship troubles exhibiting wisdom far beyond his years. So it is left to the viewer to decide, but whether insane or desperate to search for truth, Chris finds his biggest challenge alone in the Alaskan Wilderness.
This movie is masterpiece of character development and screenplay by Sean Penn. The musical score detracts rather than adds to the story. Emile Hirsh lost 40 pounds during the shoot and gives a haunting performance as Chris McCandless.
Christopher McCandless is as complex a character as one is likely to find in both the realms of fiction and reality. As depicted in "Into the Wild," he becomes a multifaceted individual incapable of classification. Played brilliantly and tortuously by Emile Hirsch, McCandless is at once a revolutionary, a coward, a hero, and a disaffected youth taken to the nth degree. Was McCandless brilliant in his decision to leave materialism behind and live off the wild? Or insane?
"Into the Wild" offers no easy answers. The film, directed by Sean Penn, presents McCandless' life objectively and asks the viewer to make a judgment on the young man's unorthodox decisions.
Penn has assembled an impressive cast in support of Hirsch, including young actresses Jena Malone and Kristen Stewart, and thespian vets Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt and Oscar-nominated Hal Holbrook. All fill a universe that is at times beautiful and heartbreaking. The cinematography, too, is simply gorgeous, taking viewers on their own trek through the wilds of the American West and finally into McCandless ultimate destination, Alaska.
"Into the Wild" suffers from minor pacing problems, though these are likely more manageable on DVD. Still, it wouldn't be unusual to have to finish the film in two or more sittings. Getting to the end rewards viewers with a powerful film and equally powerful performances all hinged on the real story of the ultimate rebel.
Sean Penn directs this drama based the best-selling true account of a young man who gives up everything -- including his trust fund and ties to a seemingly stable family -- to lead a solitary life in the wild. Eschewing convention to trek across Alaska's harsh and often unforgiving terrain, Christopher McCandless resolves to live off the land. But along the way, he encounters emotional obstacles and unexpected hardship.
Emile Hirsch, Hal Holbrook, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Jena Malone, William Hurt, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden
Freshly graduated from college with a promising future, 22 year-old Christopher McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people. Was Christopher McCandless a heroic adventurer or a naive idealist, a rebellious 1990s Thoreau or another lost American son, a fearless risk-taker or a tragic figure who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature? McCandless' quest took him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to a renegade trip down the Colorado River to the non-conformists' refuge of Slab City, California, and beyond. Along the way, he encountered a series of colorful characters at the very edges of American society who shaped his understanding of life and whose lives he, in turn, changed. In the end, he tested himself by heading alone into the wilds of the great North, where everything he had seen and learned and felt came to a head in ways he never could have expected.
Based on a true story of top student and athlete Christopher McCandless, an Emory graduate, who abandons his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness where he met his untimely fate.
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