Into The Wild (15)



Drama (2007)
148mins US

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, William Hurt, Catherine Keener
Director: Sean Penn
Writer(s): Sean Penn
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Fresh from graduating, 22-year-old Christopher McCandless seems to have the world at his feet. His wealthy parents love him and are excited at the prospect of him going to university, and he enjoys a close relationship with his younger sister. Yet Christopher yearns for something more. So he walks away from his prvileged existence and hits the road, embarking on a momentous quest that takes him from the wheat fields of South Dakota to the rapids of the Colorado River and eventually the wintry wastes of Alaska.

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LondonNet Film Review
Into The Wild

Sean Penn's fourth feature as writer-director is a moving adaptation of Jon Krakauer's acclaimed bestseller that cements the Oscar-winning actor's reputation as a keen observer of the human condition at its most fragile...

Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick. Paramount Pictures UK. Into the Wild is an extraordinary true story set during the early '90s, which illuminates one man's two-year quest for a sense of belonging in an untamed, unforgiving world. It's a film of great beauty and of devastating self-realisation that the follies of youth have dire consequences. Cinematographer Eric Gautier captures the ever-changing landscapes of this spectacular road movie in their breathtaking splendour, contrasting the rich browns and golds of the desert with the icy blues and whites of Alaska.

Rising star Emile Hirsch comes magnificently of age in the central role of 22-year-old Christopher McCandless, the college graduate who rejected the trappings of privilege to embark on a momentous journey of self-discovery.

Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick. Paramount Pictures UK. Split into five chapters entitled "My Own Birth", "Adolescence", "Manhood", "Family" and "Getting Of Wisdom", Penn's film is narrated by Chris's younger sister Carine (Jena Malone). "It was inevitable that Chris would break away and he would do it with characteristic immoderation," she confides shortly after her brother graduates, seeming with the world at his feet. His wealthy parents Walt (William Hurt) and Billie (Marcia Gay Harden) are excited at the prospect of their son going to university, even promising to buy him a new car. Yet Chris yearns for something more. He gives his life savings to charity, burns his cash and cuts up his credit cards. Then with a few belongings including a notebook to chart his grand adventure, Chris walks away from his cosy existence and hits the road, venturing from the wheat fields of South Dakota to the rapids of the Colorado River, a refuge in Slab City, California, and eventually the wintry wastes of the north.

Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick. Paramount Pictures UK. En route Chris meets numerous colourful characters including a farmer called Wayne (Vince Vaughn), hippie lovebirds Rainey (Brian Dierker) and Jan (Catherine Keener), and an old timer called Ron (Hal Holbrook). However, the greatest challenge is living off the land and weathering every storm that Mother Nature throws his way.

Almost ten years since the publication of Krakauer's book, Penn's film is a timely parable about materialism and the importance of family as a foundation for personal growth. The writer-director frequently echoes words from Chris's journal, either in voiceover or on-screen scribbling: "Disaster! River crossing impossible! Rained in. Lonely. Scared." Performances are excellent in even the smallest roles. Scenes between Chris and Ron are especially touching as the strangers survey the wilderness atop a mountain. "When you forgive, you love, and when you love, God's light shines on you," counsels the older man, just as the sun emerges from behind the clouds, bathing both characters in a comforting glow. Magnificent.

- Jo Planter


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