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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: Into the Wild

by Vicky Millington, from the London Film Festival

Not having read the book on which the film (I usually do, but not this time) is based I was really looking forward to this purely on the strength of Sean Penn’s last directed film – The Pledge. The main things that worked the best for me were the cameos, the characters that Chris/Alexander Supertramp meets along the way. Hal Holbrook was fantastic as the lonely old man, his and Vince Vaughn's characters stood out for me. Both good guys but totally opposite in the way they live their lives.

With all these surrogate family members he hooks up with on the road, why didn't he just go back to his real family?! That's what i was thinking at first but i got to like his character more as it went on. He was a talented, intelligent kid and by the end of the film his determination to do what he wanted to do shines through..and you've got to admire that. It doesn't feel forced from Emile Hirsch and he plays the role well. I thought the standout scenes were when he gets to LA and you're thinking will he get himself together and go back to his family or will he try again on what he set out to do and head for Alaska. And the scene with the moose meat (I won't elaborate so as not to spoil it for anyone).

The photography was beautiful, all those landscapes and the countryside becoming greener as the story progressed. The soundtrack was good (Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam) but didn't mesh with the images enough for me. Imagine all that scenery with a soundtrack from Morricone...people would be weeping in the aisles! Mentioning Morricone reminds me of the Eastwood poster on Chris's closet door at the start of the film. A nice nod/respectful salute to Clint from Penn.

So, overall i thought it was an enjoyable film mainly due to the cameos. They are the scenes where Emile Hirsch was at his best. The scenery drives the film and fits the mood of the story. All that warm sunshine throughout the film is finally replaced with the harsh Alaskan wilderness. Might be a slightly whimsical film for some and as one woman in the toilets announced to everyone after the screening - (in a shrill English voice) "I can sum this film up in 3 words. Extended therapy session".

Maybe she's right or maybe we're just all too cynical.