Reviewed May 27, 2012
My experience with this film has been something of a rollercoaster. I did not want to watch it. The thought of spending two and a half hours watching a man travel to Alaska sounded about as dull as Alaska itself. Strangely, within the first five minutes, all this was forgotten. Emile Hirsch creates an instantly likeable, nay, loveable character in Christopher McCandless/ Alexander Supertramp, and Penn's direction joyfully tosses the narrative between Alex's time spent in Alaska and the journey to said destination itself. By the end of the film I felt myself fully onboard with the Supertramp school of philosophy, feeling ready to embrace the Romantic values he champions and looking to detach myself from the consumerist society in which we live. Sadly, my research after the credits quickly annulled any such sentiments. My opinion of Alexander Supertramp quickly u-turned after reading about his real-life counterpart, who wasn't so much romantic hero as arrogant fool. The film itself is brilliant, but unfortunately it resides firmly in the field of fiction. I was left with a bittersweet taste in my mouth as the story does seem to be hypocritical. Finding out that the values the film prescribes were never championed in the first place, and seeing a perhaps unintentional undertone of irresponsibility and human arrogance left me somewhat disliking it.