In 1992 Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch), an intelligent, affable recent college graduate hailing from a well to do family, quietly and completely exited his life, abandoned his car and all possessions, and set off to explore the wilderness of the Western continent with the Alaskan interior in mind as his final destination. As he encounters an array of people and terrains he ambles along contentedly to a lonesome and tragic demise. Jon Krakauer’s fascinating, journalistic account of McCandless’s journey is hampered by director and book adapter Sean Penn’s pseudo-documentary structure which serves to somewhat distance the viewer from the story. The scenery, however, is spectacular and Penn does try diligently to remain faithful to the book. Hirsch gives it his all but doesn’t really have the chops to match his will, though he is given wonderful support from Hal Holbrook, Cathy Keener, and Vince Vaughn. Lastly, the Eddie Vedder soundtrack grows awfully wearisome and mundane.
*** out of ****