Thursday, December 31, 2015

Into the Wild (2007)

IMDb plot summary: After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
Directed by Sean Penn. Starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Jena Malone.

(ALL the spoilers.)

There is no way for me to discuss this movie without getting into spoilers, so if you don't know the ending of this movie or the real-life story it was based on, just pass this one by. This is also going to be a *very* personal review -- I don't have much to say about the technical or aesthetic specifics, but I have a LOT to say about how I felt about it.

I didn't know anything about this movie going into it (not even that it was based on a true story), but I had... quite an array of responses to it. The first third or so, I found myself kind of intrigued by this young character and his drive to get away into isolation. This intrigue faded pretty quickly, though, and then I spent an hour and a half being mostly bored by this young man's personal journey and just wanted him to come to his senses and go home or find something to do with his life besides wandering alone forever.

And then... the ending happened. And I was *angry*. I was angry that the movie wanted me to be following the saga of some kind of hero or brave soul or someone with revolutionary ideas when all I could see was an angry college student who thought he was better than the whole world and got himself killed because of it. I was angry that his sister didn't hear from him for months and then, bam, finds out he's starved to death in the woods. I was angry that the old man who was so kind to him might never even know what happened to him at all. I was angry that his bitterness toward society took him all the way to death and never gave him a chance to make things right for the people he hurt with his carelessness. And I did *not* want to let the movie give him a meaningful or a fulfilling death, because that isn't what it was.

I feel uncomfortable saying these things knowing that the was a real Christopher McCandless, but really, I don't know anything about the real guy. I did a tiny bit of research before writing this review, but it's not the facts of the story I have a problem with as much as the little artistic details the movie provides. Those are what that try to give us a satisfying "Aw, he lived a good life" ending when that just doesn't work with what I saw. And I'm annoyed that I had to sit through 2 1/2 hours of hiking footage to get to that ending.

That being said... I'm not sure how to rank it. It's probably better for the movie to make me angry at the end than to make me bored. And the reaction was so strong and so surprising that I'm not even sure I'm categorizing it correctly. It might eventually settle into something more positive. I remember Grave of the Fireflies making me angry but then after I got some distance, I loved it. Then again, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas made me angry and I still hate it. So... I'll loosely rank it for now, but I'm pretty sure I won't know what I actually feel about it for a couple months.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Into the Wild < Alice Adams
Into the Wild > X2
Into the Wild < Mickey's Christmas Carol
Into the Wild > Swingers
Into the Wild < The Quiet Man
Into the Wild > Hotel Transylvania
Into the Wild > Thoroughly Modern Millie
Into the Wild < The Muppet Christmas Carol
Into the Wild > Pretty in Pink
Into the Wild < Last of the Red Hot Lovers
Into the Wild < Burlesque
Final spot: #1592 out of 2406.

Flickchart guesses I'd give this 1.5 stars based on my ranking, so we'll take its lead on that.

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