I missed this one when it came out on DVD three years ago. It had been in my queue for awhile, so after seeing 127 Hours, I saw it sitting there and pulled it in (up). Not diminishing the latter film which was excellent, I’d have to say this is the better film. James Franco carried the recent Academy Award nominee, and I don’t want to diminish his performance which was great. But Sean Penn’s film, though driven by Emile Hirsch, is really more of an ensemble piece, and it’s a great example of film making that let’s us revel in a large cast of characters, and explore their different personalities. Very good performances by a lot of people in ‘small’ roles (Hal Holbrook was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role).
The movie too has a more tragic feel than the latter film. Both are based on true stories, but one made it and the other didn’t. Admittedly, Chris McCandless (the real life adventurer on whom this film was based) brings his problems on himself, and one is tempted not to care or feel sorry for him, yet the story itself is so compelling and I like the way it is told. It holds your attention through all its nearly 2 1/2 hours.
A good rental.