Based off a true story that was also novelised, Into the Wild tells the story of Chris McCandless and his very personal endeavour to escape society and the suffocation of modern life.
Upon graduating with excellent grades, Chris abandons the parents he had grown to despise and takes to the road without a word. Under the alias Alexander Supertramp, he travels across America’s wilderness, hitch-hiking and sleeping rough, meeting other wayward souls who both influence him and are affected by his free thinking manner.
This film will likely spark a lot of debate between those who have seen it; on the one hand, freedom from the systematic and the mundane is primal and longed for by all, but on the other hand… one might see Chris’ decisions and outlook on life quite selfish.
This adaptation is incredibly well made (asides maybe being a little too long) photographing the wilderness beautifully while paced delicately to invoke both yearning and concern. The characters, from lead roles and bit parts, are real and the interactions are heartfelt – often bleak. Chris’ endless spirit and self-confidence is infectious; making you want to live each day the way you want to.
As further testimony, my only problem with it is how genuine Chris’ conviction is… to the point where he becomes unlikeable. While his motivations are just, the ends he is prepared to go to, and with the people he abandons, rapidly feel foolish.
But, no one is perfect, and the story is a “yin and yang” of this gorgeous independence and bleak loneliness. It is a great film about living, the world which we live in, and some of the social absurdities we take for granted.
Additional Marshmallows: The film is directed by actor Sean Penn, proving to me at least that he is very competent behind the camera!