Climb to a wilderness mountain top ... alone. Drink from the panoramic wonder and shout, "I am." Not particularly inclined toward such an energetic and reflective pursuit, eh? Ensconced in life's constraints, are you?
OK. At least go see "Into the Wild." Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and directed this film, working masterfully from Jon Krakauer's best-selling book of the same name.
Immediately after graduating from college, the real-life Christopher Johnson McCandless gave away the $24,000 in his bank account geared toward paving his future. In his well-worn car, he drove west. When his car got thrashed, he left it behind.
Proudly living on as little money as he could, McCandless bummed rides and picked up jobs, always with sights set on an adventure in the Alaskan wilderness. He lived alone for a few months, north of Mount McKinley.
Something in his wilderness diet poisoned him. At age 24 he starved to death, but don't pigeonhole this as a sad story.
As much as this film is about a stubbornly independent young man on a solitary journey, it is also a film about human connection. He knew who he was. His confidence and passion enriched the people in his life. Where his life had to go caused heartache in those who could not get him to stay. Part of the baggage he carried on his back included prickling judgments from his upbringing and education.
As McCandless, Emile Hirsch commands the center of attention throughout "Into the Wild." He exudes a mature wisdom that is clearly attached to a life still young. His scenes are engrossing, whether he's riding the rails, reading a book, cutting up a moose or drawing people into his aura. Character parts, big and small, round out a challenging focus on a singular life, as do choice locations throughout the West.
Until you get around to visiting truth on your own solo adventure, you can find a very personalized expression of it in what may be the best movie of the year.