Into The Wild (2007)

SEAN PENN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

USA, 2007.  Paramount Vantage, Art Linson Productions, Into the Wild, River Road Entertainment.  Screenplay by Sean Penn, based on the book by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by , , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Heartbreaking examination of the true story of Chris McCandless, a college graduate from a well-to-do family who decides to drop it all and head for the wilderness. Abandoning his car in the desert and hitchhiking west, McCandless (who now calls himself Alexander Supertramp) encounters kind-hearted hippies and Catherine Keener (exquisite as usual) who take him in as family, has an encounter with some friendly fun Danes, enjoys a little romance with a teenaged folk singer () and comes under the protective wing of an elderly widower (Hal Holbrook in a magnificent performance) before achieving his dream of living in the wilderness of Alaska with nothing but his wits to support him. It would be easy for director Sean Penn to make a sympathetic victimization of McCandless’s story, pointing the blame at his dysfunctional parents (here played by William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden) and justifying the young man’s need for solitude, but he instead travels a much deeper route. Sure, our hero’s journey into loneliness has its reasons, but Penn regrets McCandless’s folly as much as he admires it, creating a film that is among the most beautiful and depressing you’ll ever get to see. A fully unpretentious performance by in the lead keeps this astonishing film on track, with a narrative that keeps threatening to slip out of the loop but never really does. If the scenery doesn’t do it for you though, watch it for the scenes between Hirsch and Holbrook, which really are extremely moving.

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Supporting Actor (Hal Holbrook); Best Film Editing

Golden Globe AwardBest Original Song (“Guaranteed”)
Nominations: Best Original Score

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations:  Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; Best Actor (Emile Hirsch); Best Supporting Actor (Hal Holbrook); Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener)

Toronto International Film Festival:  2007

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