Into the Wild Reviews
Sequences are gorgeously filmed by cinematographer Eric Gautier, and they're heady with the joy of discovery -- they make you want to hit the road into the magnificent landscape we forget is out there.
Into the Wild is all over the place and ultimately, I think, wrongheaded in its attack. But [Director Sean] Penn gives it the good old college try -- or perhaps I should say, the good old society-dropout try.
If Into the Wild falls short of giving McCandless an indelible cinematic life, the film gets under your skin anyway. It doesn't feel improvised, exactly, but it does feel inhabited.
A murky screenplay leaves most of the humans ciphers, save for Hal Holbrook in an exquisitely calibrated performance as the avuncular desert retiree whose advice McCandless should have heeded.
As actor and director, Penn long has been drawn to the existential and elemental. Life and death. Remorse and revenge. All these themes converge -- symphonically -- in Into the Wild, his most fully realized work as a director.
though it's easy to dismiss McCandless' hippified musings and near-suicidal choices as the misguided actions of a kid who read Walden a little too closely in college, Penn's film aims for something more, a deeper telling of a tale of yearning and escape.