It’s high time I paid proper respect to Sean Penn’s epically moving film Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer’s book of the same name. And while I’m at it, I’d better take a moment to grovel at Emile Hirsch’s feet in gratitude for his colossally inspired portrayal of Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, a college graduate who gave away all his possessions and set out traveling the country in search of vitality, purity and honesty, and always with his compass pointing toward Alaska. If you’re not familiar with the story, don’t worry, the film will tell you all you need to know, and if you have read the book, think of the film as supplemental material. Penn’s film sports a dazzling supporting cast (once again, the importance of stellar supporting cast proves too true) including Catherine Keener (magical), Hal Holbrook (sincere beyond words), William Hurt (simply amazing) and a Zach Galifianakis so good that it didn’t occur to me that it was actually him. That’s not to insult Mr. G, of course, but to shine a light on his supreme acting talent as well as his supreme comedic genius. A superb soundtrack by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder punctuates the entire feeling of the film with a primordial verve. Hirsch, as Supertramp, is a marvel to behold, the perfect embodiment of reckless idealism. Some may call McCandless rash, careless, a city kid who got in over his head, and they may be right. But Penn and Krakauer pose another theory, that Alexander Supertramp may just be the last American Hero, a trailblazer in search of a thing so elusive as to render it invisible to most eyes, save those willing to become lost to find it.
You be the judge.