In 2007, John Krakauer took the memoirs of young nomad traveller Christopher McCandless, adapted it to a full length nonfiction work, and then passed over the story rights to Sean Penn. The result, the film Into the Wild as the tales third incarnation, is ultimately a two and a half hour snore fest.
It would be ignorant to ignore Emile Hirsch’s staggeringly good character performance. More than losing considerable weight to match McCandless’ gradual diminishment, Hirsch is trying his damn hardest, earning his stripes and chewing up every single scene with poise and force. However, all that effort feels like a huge waste of energy when the finished product is so dull, with at least a third of the film’s length feeling superfluous.
Although Sean Penn is known for his political activism, Into the Wild feels inherently all-American and apolitical. Travelling across the vast American landscape, it’s a lonesome road movie, which is only made worse by alternative rock gruff-mistro Eddie Vedder creating the cheesy score. All of this, plus it’s ‘based on true events’ strap line make Into the Wild overtly poignant and worthy, constantly waving itself in front of academy award members, and attempting to pull on the audience’s heartstrings. Maybe mine are plucked, but I sure as hell ain’t crying.