This is a very well made film. The acting is tremendous, all the characters are believable, even the bit parts. Its based on a book based on a true story. I liked the way the mood of the movie was constructed. They used an HD camera for at the very least most of the film, if not all of it. Some of the shots were incredible, when you have a film like this, you need the wide, surveying shots, it adds scope, mood and feeling to the film. They walked dangerous ground with the pacing, but it paid off, usually films with a lot of music driven montage sequences seem to drag on and they grow tiresome, the music was a vehicle for the film, and it paid off.
Emili Hirsch I've seen in two movies, one good movie(The Girl Next Door) and one cataclysmic disaster(Alpha Dog). He plays this role perfectly. I liked the fact that Hirsch and Sean Penn portrayed this character not as a hero or some kind of martyr but a man seeking his own way, right or wrong, the movie did not cast judgment or aim to deify the character of Alexander Supertramp, it chose to tell his story. This character wasn't perfect, his foolishness(both in the film and real life) contributed to his eventual demise, he caused his parents endless anguish, but positively effected many people he ran into along his journey.
Hal Holbrook was incredible. I last saw him in The Firm from 1993, gone is his wily mustache and most of his hair, but the sly twinkle is still in his eye and he plays this old, stubborn man with power and truth. I loved the scene where he climbs the hill and then knocks away Supertramp's hand and calls him a dimwit.
Katherine Keener played what she always plays, and plays it well, a wounded, vulnerable, loving women who is still recovering from the past, her husband, Rainey, might be my favorite character in the movie.
At the start of this movie, you envy the main characters idea, it even twinges that urge in you to do the same thing. By the end of the movie you are resting comfortably in a chair, or a couch, and pleased that you are in a home, rather than in the wilderness searching for edible plants.
The world needs people like Christopher McCandless, idealists who see the world differently and aim to experience it. The real crime would have been if his journey had gone undocumented, if his thoughts went unrecorded. Instead we are enlightened by the film and I'm sure the book by the same name did the same thing. Its a journey that needed to be undertaken by someone, if only to show that not everyone is bound, and some people are truly free.