Saturday, September 29, 2007

TRH Movie - Into The Wild

I've been mildly obsessed with reading about Sean Penn these days after going to an advance screening of Into the Wild before I jetted off to NYC two weeks ago. I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but goodness, it's one hell of a film. As he's mentioned in interview after interview, Penn wanted the landscape to be as much a character within the picture as the actors themselves, and it's truly heartbreaking how he achieves this throughout the movie.

Emile Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless, whose tragic (if you want even to call it that) story was brought to light by Jon Krakauer in his best-selling book. When McCandless promptly hands over the balance of his college fund to Oxfam and heads on his own to discover America with only his courage to guide him, it's less than two years later that he ends up starving to death in a magic bus in the Alaskan wilderness. The film charts his journey with an effortless spirit and energy that portrays McCandless as a modern-day hero, fully realized and idealistic, charming and charismatic, who gathers love around him like a moth to a flame. Abandoning the ethics and ethos of his upper-middle class parents, McCandless steps to the beat of his own heart in a way that betrays his youthful good looks. As my RRHB said to me when we left the theatre, "How incredible to live that fully realized, even if it was just for a short period of time."

And it's true. McCandless might have been foolish to head off into the Alaskan wilderness, but the philosophy behind his need to live a life off the beaten path, remains true. All in all, it's a wonderful movie that runs maybe just a tad too long, and showcases an extreme talent in the young actor who carries the burden of the title role.

I think, however, the performance of the film, for me, rests solidly with Hal Holbrook, An older man Chris befriends the months before he heads into the wild, Holbrook's Ron, who tenderly tries to dissuade the younger man from following his dream, ends up coming to terms with a life he never expected to lead. I don't want to say too much more for fear of spoiling the genuine moments the two have on screen. But I will say that akin to Richard Farnsworth's magnificent turn in The Straight Story, Holbrook's performance in Penn's picture remains riveting throughout.

Anyway, I've rambled on far too much today anyway. Just know that I admire Penn's aesthetic when it comes to this picture so much that I fell I'm the one doing it a disservice trying to describe it with my weakened words.


Heather said...

You know, I hadn't had an interest in seeing this movie but your review has changed my mind.

indigo herself said...

i just wrote a post about this too and felt at a loss for words as well, it's just too good for words. he really dives into life with wild extreme abandon and shakes you out of any bland ho hum routine your mind may have been sitting in.

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