‘Into the Wild’ is a well made film that I didn’t connect with at all, Emile Hirsch gives a fantastic performance and the supporting actors are also great, but performances alone were not enough to get me engaged with the film.
I think the main reason i didn’t connect with the film is that I felt no connection to the lead character, Chris McCandless, or as he liked to be called, Supertramp. I found him to be insufferable with no redeeming qualities about him. The film seems to hinge on his character, if you can relate with him or even sympathise with his situation, then you will really enjoy the film, and if you don’t have a connection with the character then you will not enjoy the film.
The fact that i felt no attachment to McCandless probably says more about me than it does about the film and the fact that the film is based on a real person only makes me dislike him more. The attitude he has, the way he carries himself and even the way he treats people, though not necessarily bad, is just unlikeable. Having said that, I can safely say that Hirsch is thoroughly convincing in the role and probably delivered his best performance ever.
The directing style is also interesting, it ranges from intense, up close shots, to beautiful sprawling cinematic shots down to some very amateur camerawork and it really affects the tone of the film. It honestly felt in parts that Penn wanted to shoot this film like Terrence Malick would with static shots of seemingly nothing for short periods of time which when done right can seem very smug, and unfortunately, Terrence Malick, Sean Penn is not.
I was invested in the film, gripped by the story, even though I disliked the main character and then as the film seemed to be reaching a conclusion, I checked the run time and found out I was only an hour in at which point I realised that not only was this film paced extremely poorly, it also meant I had to spend another 90 minutes with an insufferable character and his journey of “discovery”.
The editing is ridiculous and very schizophrenic, early in the film the editing is smooth and flows well with the film, but towards the end it’s filled with flashing images, hard cuts where there is no need for it and it just left a bad taste in my mouth when the credits started to roll.
In conclusion, the film is very well made and filled with some great performances, but it is a very disjointed film and I did not relate with the character at all and as the film progressed my discontent with him grew, but that could just be me as it is rated extremely highly by critics and audiences.