Into the Wild ★★★★½

This is a fascinating and really affecting based-on-a-true-story character study-cum-road movie with poetic qualities, very beautiful scenery, and mostly well-chosen music. Emile Hirsch is excellent as Christopher McCandless and more or less becomes his character (no stunt doubles were used), Vince Vaughn is very good in an atypical role, and the rest of the cast (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Brian Dierker, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook) also give strong performances. The most touching relationship in the film is the one between McCandless and Ron Franz (Holbrook), an old man he befriends. Extensive use of voice-overs in a film is usually not a good thing, but it works pretty well in this case. The use of various camera tricks, such as slow motion, and Hirsch’s acknowledgment of the camera at the end of the scene in which he is eating an apple are unmotivated and unnecessary, but they detract only slightly from the overall experience of watching "Into the Wild".