Emile, wow. I'm very impressed. In scenes, he reminded me of a young Johnny Depp, then a younger Ewan McGregor and other times, of Leonardo DiCaprio. Either way, you have to admit he's very good. I hope he keeps doing small movies for each blockbuster. It would be a shame to have him get eaten up by Hollywood. (And ultimately, I think he also reminds me of River Phoenix.)
I think what got to me the most was knowing the whole time he was going to die, and they way the film cut back and forth between his last days and his meeting different people on the road, it really emphasized what each person found -- and lost -- with him. He was a mother's missing son, the grandson an old man never had, the boy a young girl will always love and miss.
There was a kind of rapture and joy and humor in the scenes where he's alone and exploring that comes through more strongly than in the book, as we're experiencing it all with him, firsthand. I was hoping we wouldn't see his final moments as I knew I'd sob right through them. And some of the directorial choices there were, um, a bit cheesy. But the final image, of him smiling in death was strangely beautiful. I don't see how his family could bring themselves to watch. You really felt what a huge loss it was to everyone he knew and that's what, as I said, got to me the most. Pardon the comparison, but it reminded me of that ultimate of tearjerkers, Lassie Come Home, where each new set of caretakers falls in love with Lassie and wants to keep her, but she has to be moving on, back to her owner. But there's a tearful reunion in that film, and here, it's all just in his mind, too late.
When I read the book, I went back and forth over whether I thought he was an idiot or admirably brave. He came so close to succeeding! It was great luck that he found the bus and rotten luck with the river being too high too cross and eating the wrong plant. But then again, if he'd prepared more, brought a map or more provisions, he would have lived. It seems such a waste of a life but some people are just driven in ways I won't ever understand.
I was very moved by the "Iconoclasts" episode where Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer journey to the actual site of the bus (did they actually film there too?) and drank in his honor. Those two men seem reckless in the same kind of way and I think he'd be honored by their telling his story.
Maybe the saddest thing of all is the last thing he wrote, that true happiness must be shared, and that he'd realized that too late to make it true. I can't help but think of the heartbreak everyone felt on learning of his death, especially Hal Holbrook's character. *sniffles*
And by the way, I timed by bathroom break when he was starting to cut into the moose. I'm all for realism but too squeamish for that!