Rating: R for language, nudity and mature themes
Run Time: 2 hours, 27 minutes
Sean Penn steps behind the camera to craft one of the most powerful films of the year – say hello to Oscar.
With great skill and imagination Penn unspools a great American tragedy – the true story of 22-year-old establishment drop-out Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch).
McCandless was freshly graduated from
His goal was complete emancipation from a false sense of security, from the very essence of things that cut him off from a true – and ostensibly meaningful – existence.
cashed in his college fund and abruptly donated all $24,000 to Oxfam. Thus the
ties were cut – from his judgmental parents (William Hurt and Marcia Gay
Harden) and his sister / partner-in-crime Carine (Jena Malone). McCandless hit
the road with a vengeance; his car was found abandoned in the
beauties of the country were too good to pass up but there was inner splendor
to discover as well. McCandless’ coiled disillusionment was a weighty travel
companion, its layers painstakingly shed along with his worldly possessions.
The printed stylings of Tolstoy,
From the mean
Penn’s touch is aggressive and self-assured, crafted with a clever intelligence. His screenplay, based on Jon Krakauer’s evocative novel, makes a subtle but sound case for McCandless’ desperate desire to reach the core of his being through new and fresh experiences.
Carine’s voice-over signals a pregnant family sadness in direct contrast to McCandless’ burgeoning liberation. Eddie Vedder’s moody melodies reflect internal struggle and spiritual awakening.
Hirsch is nothing short of a revelation, his fervent commitment to the project both painful and profound. The might of the film’s emotions are breathlessly hypnotic; I was fixed to my seat long after the lights came up.