Sunday, January 20, 2008

how you can turn someone else's life into something very personal

starring emile hirsch, marcia gay harden, william hurt, jena malone, catherine keener and hal holbrook
written and directed by sean penn
viewed at the metreon, san francisco, ca

every brilliant review i've read about this brilliant adaptation of that brilliant book centered around the word "personal". of course, the writer/director has made a living finding the deepest spirits of the characters he portrays, so that connection seemed natural.

emile hirsch became chris mccandless; he connected to the soul of the character, this real person, his struggles and intrepidness. hal holbrook's short relationship to him connected him not only character to character, but also us to older people dear to our own lives. eddie vedder's score, barely beyond the basics, connected a personal narrative to this powerful journey. the pain seen in the faces of catherine keener, william hurt and marcia gay harden was something we could all relate to, the loss of someone special.

and sean penn's barren writing and gradual directing was the perfect string to tie all these connections together.

why is all this important? well, you won't read any book or listen to any conversation about great films without hearing that the ultimate the goal of brilliant filmmaking is to make connections. because if you can coerce the audience to turn your story into something personal, it'll become something they remember because it's something they'll feel.

i feel this is one of the best films this year. and i ain't alone.

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