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Into the Wild, a Recklessly Good Time

Into the WildSo one of my favorite books EVER was made into this movie by Sean Penn and I dare say, the results are marvelous. I was a bit apprehensive at first because the only thing I had ever seen Emile Hirsch act in was that horrid THE GIRL NEXT DOOR but really, he embodies the right mix of personability and cockiness that is paramount to this story about man, nature and hubris. (And he was exponentially funny-smart on Letterman too.)

I really appreciated the realistic-feeling film stock used in Into the Wild. I was much relieved to find that it didn’t have that too pretty, too processed or too graphic-y look that plagues a lot of art films pumped out by the machine. You really feel the unobtrusiveness of the camera (even when Hirsch acts directly to the camera) and get immersed in the environment as McCandless was. I also found it a riot to photographically revisit some of the places in the film to which freedom-fueled adventures had similarly brought me. I think a lot of people will find an extreme version of themselves in this film.

That quality alone speaks volumes about the fine job the actors do in really humanizing their characters. Those nuances keep them from falling into unrelatable overly engaging or demonized roles. I am now a fan of Vince Vaughn. I was always very much impressed by Kristen Stewart and was pleased to see her in a quality supporting role. The casting is perfect and the acting is excellent.

How about a soundtrack by Eddie Vedder? I was a little nervous about the imbalance of bleak overtones with heavily Vedder-stacked tracks. But instead, the songs nicely tie a worldliness into McCandless’s fundamentalist journey. Vedder evokes the right mix of optimistic desire and a man who’s really lived – for better and worse. In a sense, it nicely bundles together and foreshadows an unraveling lark.

Into the Wild is an enriching experience in that it keeps you interested in the ride while inviting you to discerningly entertain some pretty deep issues without, like, wanting you to be a brain.


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