Into the Wild is a film about what a great guy someone is, even though they’re actually a total dick.
The guy in question is Chris, a handsome, middle-class college graduate with a promising future ahead of him. Life is peachy until one day Chris’ life is irreparibly shattered when his parents offer to buy him a new car. What dispicible bastards. ‘THINGS, THINGS, THINGS, THINGS!’ wails Chris, making a scene in the swanky restaurant his parents have taken him to. ‘I don’t want a new car!’ So Chris does what any young man would do in such awful and oppresive circumstances: he burns all his money (rather than give it to, say, charity) packs his bags, and runs away – into the wild!
It’s apparent that the people who made this film desperately want us to sympathize with Chris, and maybe even fall in love with him. But it’s difficult when he’s such a pretentious, hyper-sensitive brat who communicates exclusively by quoting the words of highbrow authors such as Thoreau, Tolstoy and Gogol; a rare disorder that makes ordering a pizza over the phone almost impossible.
Anyway, starting off in Arizona, Chris traipses through various uninhabited landscapes until he meets a pair of hippy swingers who refer to themselves as The Rubber Tramps. The wife immediately falls in love with Chris, much to her husband’s annoyance. The wife, sick of her husband, gets in a mood and storms off down the beach. Chris catches up with her, and the two of them take their clothes off and splash around in the sea while the husband watches impotently from the shore. Afterwards, the wife feels guilty and pity fucks her husband in a tent. Chris can hear them doing it and decides to leave. When they discover that Chris has left, the hippies are sad. I think they were hoping for a threesome.
It’s made clear that Chris’ heart belongs to one woman only: Mother Nature. In one scene he cries because he sees some deer. In another, he spares the life of a duck he is hunting because he suddenly decides it’s adorable. And then there’s the infamous, inexplicable scene (cut in many regions) in which he has sex with a handful of sphagnum moss.
Later, during a sojourn to a town, Chris meets Vince Vaughan – played by Vince Vaughan – in a bar. They chant the word ‘society’ in unison 15 times, because it’s, like, society, man, and it’s all just, like, hypocrites and politicians, yeah?
Worse still is the scene in which Chris talks insipidly to an apple, and then suddenly stares directly into the camera for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I guess the director just stopped giving a shit. I can’t say I blame him.
Then there’s a montage of jarring split screens in which a farmer shows Chris how to grow turnips. Seriously. Watch it if you don’t believe me.
Throughout the proceedings Chris’s voice can intermittently be heard spouting all manner of condescending, pseudo-intellectual, quasi-spiritual crap. Sometimes he informs us of what’s going on, even though it’s blatantly obvious. Occasionally Chris’ sister Nancy has a go at narrating, but she’s just as humourless as her brother. She just keeps repeating what a swell guy Chris is. All very tedious and sickly, not to mention false.
Astonishingly, Chris makes it all the way to Alaska before finally succumbing to a combination of starvation, pneumonia and food poisoning. Despite the fact that one of his few possessions is a handbook about edible berries, Chris somehow manages to eat loads of poisonous ones. Perhaps if he’d laid off the Tolstoy a bit and occasionally read something useful he’d still be alive today.
Into the Wild is based on a true story. I don’t know how accurate the film is, but if the real Chris was half as lame as the one portrayed in the film, then I’m inclined to think his demise wasn’t such a great loss for mankind. Then again, if he hadn’t died this nauseating film would not exist. So perhaps his death was a tragedy after all.
Eddie Vedder does the soundtrack, but it might as well have been Susan Boyle. The music is limp, whiny, pathetic, annoying. It suits the film perfectly.