Directed by Sean Penn, Into the Wild is a movie based on the non-fiction book on the same title by Jon Krakauer which tells the adventures of Christopher McCandless. McCandless (Emile Hirsch) graduated from Emory University in 1990 and abandoned everything to travel across the country and live in the wilderness. He stopped communicating with his parents, gave away $24,000 in savings to Oxfam, changed his name to Alexander Supertramp and later abandoned his car and the little cash that he had left. Along the way to his ultimate goal of going to Alaska, he meets interesting people who admire his open heartedness and want him to stay. He never does though, as the free spirit that he was.
Whether you think McCandless is some sort of a modern-era romantic hero or a senseless spoiled fool who ran away at the expense of his dead-worried family, the movie does have two strong things going for it: the actors and the cinematography. Emile Hirsch performs admirably, capturing the spirit of McCandless and carrying the movie on his increasingly skinny shoulders. He shed over 40 lbs to demonstrate McCandless starvation and impending fate. Into the Wild also features great performances from the supporting cast which has many recognizable names such as Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Hal Holbrook, and Kristen Stewart among others. The cinematography is beautiful with the movie shot in dozens of stunning locations. The musical score is omnipresent which gives the movie a bit of a long “music video” feel.
A sympathetic character study of McCandless with great performances and beautiful locations. The film does suffer from uneven pacing and from being overly long at nearly two hours and a half.