Into the Wild

DRAMA; 2hr 28min

STARRING: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt

Walk on the wild side: Hirsch

What possesses a young man fresh out of college to junk his life and head alone into the unknown? In 1990, 22-year-old Christopher McCandless (Hirsch) does exactly that, spurning the predictable and the privileged for hermetic extremes in his quest for purity and truth.


Director Sean Penn’s fluid, intuitive account — based on Jon Krakauer’s 1996 reality-inspired book — moves back and forth through Chris’s family history and two-year odyssey from South Dakota to the Colorado River, to California and, finally, to Alaska, to create an anatomy of his personality and motivation.


As the screenplay tells it, Chris’s distrust of authority and disregard for money stem from his sapping relationship with his oppressive parents (Harden and Hurt). In cutting the ties that bind, he frees himself from what he fears he might have become, only to finally realise how vital those ties are. Into the Wild is weighty and intricate in its acutely personal themes, yet like Chris McCandless himself, its light and buoyant spirit is wholly in love with life.