Thursday, December 11, 2008

Into the Wild (2007)

Movie quotes:
"I read somewhere... how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong... but to feel strong."
- Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch)

"I'm going to paraphrase Thoreau here... rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth."
- Christopher McCandless

"The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences."
- Christopher McCandless

At a glance:
The true story of a young man who travels led him to seek truth in the harsh Alaskan wilderness is presented artfully by director Sean Penn, and features a stunning and emotional performance by Emile Hirsch and Chris McCandless

Our review:
I’m an advocate of compacting storytelling, and I believe that most stories can (or should) be told on film in under two hours. Almost any yarn can be improved with proper paring and editing.

Into the Wild is an exception to this rule. Director Sean Penn waited ten years to gain permission from the McCandless family to film the true story of their son, whose long journey to truth began as an escape from a dysfunctional family and ended in the harsh Alaskan wilderness. You as a viewer will spend almost 2 ½ hours to make the same journey, and by virtue of Emile Hirsch’s remarkable acting transformation (he lost 40 pounds while making this film), and Penn’s artful direction and deep understanding of the subject, you will feel like you have traveling within and without this incredible young man. This is not an expose of mistakes; instead Chris McCandless is treated almost as a deity. The film is at its best when it concentrates on the inner workings of McCandless’ mind and motivation, and at its worst when it attempts to make the story more interesting by introducing a parade of eccentric, overly dramatic fictional ‘characters’ for McCandless to meet along the way (but this diversion is brief). Based on Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book. Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Sean Penn deserves huge credit for the gentle hand he has used in telling this incredible story. "
- Brian Webster (Apollo Guide)

"Often too concerned with how smart he's being, Sean Penn gets the quiet moments right while some of the more dialogue-intensive come off poorly."
- Wesley Lovell (Oscar Guy)

"Penn's best movie to date rests on a brilliant performance by Hirsch, who gets under the skin of the fascinating character at the centre of the piece."
- Jamie McLeish (Channel 4 Film)

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