Director: Sean Penn
Stars: Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener
Plot: ‘Straight A’ student and athlete Christopher McCandless graduates from university but then abandons a potentially glittering career to go live in the Alaskan wilderness, meeting an array of characters along the way.
Having a career, getting married and settling down is something that is an expected standard practice in society. After a while however, there is often the feeling for some that there is much more to life than trying to pay off a mortgage and the daily 9 to 5 grind. Adapted from Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book of the same name, Christopher McCandless (Hirsch) casts aside such concerns as he leaves his family and friends behind, gives away his savings to charity and travels to Alaska on a journey of self-discovery.
Into The Wild is a romanticised account of the real-life McCandless’ experiences as he travelled across America in the early 1990s. Travelling under the pseudonym ‘Alexander Supertramp’, McCandless hitchhikes westwards across the country via Arizona, California and North Dakota, including an illegal kayak trip into Mexico until eventually reaching Alaska where he intends to survive off the land, living a life of solitude.
The people he meets include hippie couple Jan (Keener) and Rainey (Brian H. Dierker), whose encounter with Chris breathes new life into their relationship. Vince Vaughn’s Wayne Westerberg employs McCandless in his harvesting company but questions his motives for travelling alone, providing the devil’s advocate perspective of the film which he apparently fails to consider.
Into The Wild is well-directed by Sean Penn, who manages to help make this a thought-provoking film despite the decidedly downbeat, if surprising ending. Hirsch is convincing as McCandless and the support from Keener, Vaughn and a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart as Tracy Tatro is top-notch. For anyone planning a round-the-world trip, this is compulsive viewing.