We're located at.....3149 West 111th Street, Chicago, Il 60655                                                              Call us at...773.881.4376                                                              E-Mail us at...arcomics @ msn.com

 

INTO THE WILD (****)

Movie Review by: Jim "Good Old JR" Rutkowski
Directed & Written by: Sean Penn, adapted from Jon Krakauer’s novel: "Into the Wind"
Starring:
Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt,
Running time: 140 minutes Released: 11/21/07
Rated R for language and some nudity.
"...a stunning, deeply troubling film -- a road movie, a heartbreaking character study, a sincere and thoughtful meditation on happiness and truth."
I have not read Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, and was not even aware that it purported to tell a true story. I approached Sean Penn's adaptation at Telluride expecting a wilderness adventure, the sort of uplifting prestige picture that audiences here so readily embrace. I was not remotely prepared for this stunning, deeply troubling film -- a road movie, a heartbreaking character study, a sincere and thoughtful meditation on happiness and truth. It shook and upset me; I walked from the screening, surrounded by the sort of spectacular natural vista the protagonist would have relished, in glum silence, not wanting to talk to anyone. Days later, I am grateful for the film.

One could lodge a number of legitimate-seeming complaints against Christopher J. McCandless (Emile Hirsch), the hero of the story. If nothing else, he is rather pretentious -- it's not enough that he renounces all his possessions, donates his life savings to charity, and sets off on a life of a penniless traveler (he names himself "Alexander Supertramp"); he has to quote Thoreau and Pasternak while he does it. He resents his parents, though perhaps for good reason, and goes to some lengths to make sure they won't find him; he loves his sister Carine (Jena Malone) but won't call her on his adventure to tell her everything is okay. He despises the phony, hollow, materialist trappings of civilization, convinced that truth is found on the open road, or perhaps in the Alaskan wilderness. In his conscious, aggressive rejection of human contact (mostly) and ordinary societal values (entirely), he bears some relation, I think, to Salinger's Holden Caulfield, who also raged against -- and held himself above -- the "phonies" in his path while dreaming of a purer, more connected existence.

The difference between Christopher, with whom I empathized absolutely, and Holden, whom I've disliked since reading The Catcher in the Rye in high school, is simple: McCandless is a good guy. Even aside from his spontaneous acts of charity, which can admittedly be viewed as self-aggrandizing ("This is my life savings; feed someone with it," he writes on a post-it note, which goes on a cashier's check, which goes in an envelope addressed to Oxfam), he is nice to people, and, in the best road movie tradition, genuinely connects with those he meets on his journey. Indeed, for someone who wants so desperately to leave the world we know behind and live a life of transient solitude, Christopher has a remarkable capacity for understanding others. His bonds with a lonely widower (Hal Holbrook) and a pair of aging hippies (Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker) are genuine and deep -- he gets them, and we think they might be starting to understand him, too.

For all that, Into the Wild doesn't glorify McCandless -- in fact, the brunt of its force comes from our (and his) realization, in the film's final minutes, that he has made a tragic, irreversible mistake, and I don't just mean his misguided wilderness adventure. McCandless may have been foolish to undertake his Alaskan trek without adequate planning -- some have pointed out that he could have walked out of his predicament had he a decent map -- but the film convincingly argues that his real misstep lay in his conception of happiness and fulfillment. This is conveyed by way of Chris's written inscription in the margins of a book, which sounds uncinematic, but works well with the feverish, intense tone Penn sets for the movie's last "chapter." (The occasional "chapter" titles, which carry names like "Adolescence" and "The Gaining of Wisdom" are the only aspect of the film I found problematic.) The final shots, which continue to chill me to the bone, combine triumph and tragedy in an unforgettable way.

Penn cuts between Chris's days living in an abandoned bus (the "Magic Bus") he found in a national park near Fairbanks, Alaska and the hitchhiking road trip that precedes it, tying the two together with Carine's moving, uncommonly emotional voiceover. The screenplay contains episodes without becoming episodic, if that makes sense -- discrete sections of the film are dedicated to Chris's relationship with the Hal Holbrook character, for example, or his fleeting friendship with a 16 year-old singer-songwriter (Kristen Stewart), but his journey remains intact. It's an entrancing 140 minutes.

Emile Hirsch is a good actor who was born to play this difficult role. One of the most intensely physical actors I've ever seen, with extraordinary control over his body language (contrast to, say, Laura Linney, who acts with her face), he is perfect for the part of a man who finds his bliss in the great outdoors, and he gives a towering, completely unsentimental performance. Portraying this character without hysterics is an achievement on the part of both Hirsch and Penn.

I mentioned that the ending of Into the Wild contains an element of triumph, and it's true -- the film allows for a dose of forgiveness, of sunshine peeking through Alaskan clouds. But though Penn is clearly sympathetic, and works with Hirsch to make Chris McCandless likable despite his arrogant folly, he doesn't let the guy off the hook. The reason Into the Wild is so troubling, even disturbing, is that notwithstanding the protagonist's profound goodness, it insists on consequences for his narcissism, his naîvete, his -- yes -- stupidity. What he learns on his journey, and scribbles in his book shortly before the credits roll, is one of the deepest truths I know (or believe in, anyhow). If only his epiphany had come sooner.

INTO THE WILD © 2007 Paramount Vantage.
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2007 Alternate Reality, Inc.

OTHER REVIEWS...
RASSLIN' REVIEW

Pay Per Views and House Shows, we layeth the Smaketh- Down on both!

KIDS REVIEWS

Dozen's of kid friendly titles arrive every week and we review the one that stands out.
YOUR HEADS UP

100's of new comics ship every week, we give you a HEADS UP on them!

RETURN TO TOP

 

 
 
OVER 1250
ITEMS FROM THIS MONTHS PREVIEWS
CATALOG ARE
DISCOUNTED
20%-40% OFF

WHEN YOU PRE-ORDER BY 082919!

 
ALL NEW COMICS
EVERYDAY FOR EVERYONE!
EVERY NEW 1ST ISSUE
25% OFF EVERY NEW 1ST ISSUES EVERY NEW COMIC WEDNESDAY
BULK SAVINGS
BUY BAGS, BOARDS & BOXES IN BULK AND SAVE!
HERO OF THE MONTH
EVERY MONTH WE SPOTLIGHT ONE HERO AND DISCOUNT THEIR
TRADE PAPERBACKS
25% OFF
 ALL MONTH LONG!
20% OFF EVERY 20TH
SAVE 20% ON THE 20TH OF EACH MONTH!
EVERY SUNDAY
ONE CHARACTER, HUGE SAVINGS
LADIES DAY THURSDAY
EVERY THURSDAY LADIES SAVE 20% OFF!
CUSTOMER APPRECIATION BUCKS
GOOD FOR VARIANT SETS, CLEARANCE COMICS & BACK ISSUES!
GOOD GRADES DESERVE A REWARD
BRING IN YOUR REPORT CARD!
YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!
EVERY MONDAY WE PICK A WINNER!
 

 A WINNER EVERY MONDAY, A DRAWING EVERY WEEK!
Rafflemania is your chance to win a collectable piece
 of kitsch, and it's free to enter. 
Below are some of our recent winners,
 remember...

YOU CAN WIN TOO!

STEVE NOWICKI

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 010719
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #280 drawing!
He won a...

FEMME FATALES SINFUL SUZIE PVC FIGURE DIORAMA

VITO CARLI

OF CHICAGO
One of the winners of our
BLACK FRIDAY 2016
RaffleMania drawing!
He won a...

LAST KING BLU RAY

KIM RALLINGS

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 011419
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #281 drawing!
He won a...

MARVEL GALLERY BLACK CAT COMIC PVC FIGURE

CESAR MARQUEZ

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 012419
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #282 drawing!
He won a...

ERNIE POSEY CARICATURE
OF HIMSELF

CAREY ANDERSON

OF EVERGREEN PARK
Winner of our 012819
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #283 drawing!
He won a...

AMAZING SPIDERMAN #800 VARIANT SET

HAILEE HORVATH

OF OAK LAWN
Winner of our 020419
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #284 drawing!
He won a...

MARVEL GALLERY LADY
 DEADPOOL PVC FIGURE

BILLY McCASKILL

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 021119
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #285 drawing!
He won a...

THE PURGE: SEASON ONE
BLU RAY SET

JOHN VALENZUELA

OF CHICAGO
Winner of our 021819
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #286 drawing!
He won a...

THE PURGE: SEASON ONE
BLU RAY SET

KEITH DAVENPORT

OF EVERGREEN PARK
Winner of our 022519
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #287 drawing!
He won a...

THE PURGE: SEASON ONE
BLU RAY SET

DAVID SORIA

OF BLUE ISLAND
Winner of our 030419
 RaffleMania Monday
Week #288 drawing!
He won a...

THE PURGE: SEASON ONE
BLU RAY SET