Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Into the Wild

The least we can say is that Sean Penn's first directorial work rocks. In fact, the reason why Into the Wild blows you away is because of its the use of many layers of subtlety in the elaboration of the script and the strong performance by the well-chosen cast. In short, to put in plainly, this character-driven film will sure please to those who don't want to watch disposable entertainment materials proposed by Hollywood's big machine.

After having majored in history and anthropology from Emory University in 1990, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) cuts his credit card, destroys all of his identification documents, gives away his $24,000 savings to Oxfam and stops communicating with his family. Afterwards, Christopher decides to travel across the USA while having in mind his ultimate objective: to live in solitary in the nature of Alaska. Of course, what motivates him to travel on his own is his contempt for the materialism inherent in the American way of life.

Whether Sean Penn wanted to promote his political opinions or not, there's a better reason to embrace this brilliant film.

It's one of the many films I've seen that cares about taking the time to build its characters. Of course, many might think that the characters revolving around Christopher are only mere plot devices and that Christopher is only developed on the surface. However, writer/director Sean Penn turns upside down the convention of scriptwriting. In fact, while we see Christopher on the road, we get to see what actually pushed him to put in motion his project through the narration of his sister who tries to understand him.

Evidently, as the title Into the Wild suggests, the fact that Christopher wants to travel because of his taste for adventure is not a matter of dispute. This means that he goes "into the wild" to protest against what he sees as the emptiness of the American of life, a mind frame, according to him, that 1) identifies people as consumers within a society and 2) discourages people from living life the way they want. However, unlike what some might think, the film tries to suggest more than that by plunging into the problems that affected Christopher's family.

Finally, since many of us, North Americans, see movies as disposable entertainment materials, I guess that the film will resonate in many of us. Although I won't watch the film over and over again, I will always recommend Into the Wild for people who are looking for an outstanding road movie. In fact, the film is worth watching, because writer/director Sean Penn skilfully walks the thin line between 1) a film that gives us the feeling that the leading character is merely developed on the surface and 2) one that displays its layers of subtlety through the smart use of a narration (provided by Christopher's sister, who is played by Jena Malone) along with flashbacks.

Rating: 4.5/5

Origin:USA (2007)
Length:148 minutes
Genre:Road drama
Screenplay:Sean Penn
Director:Sean Penn
Starring:Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden and Jena Malone

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