A producer friend has chosen to disregard the things about Into The Wild that absolutely work — the intimate communing with nature’s grand cathedral, the serenely beautiful ending, Emile Hirsch‘s performance — because of her feelings about the real Chris McCandless, and out of this believes that Sean Penn‘s film may be the weakest wildebeest among the herd of supposed Best Picture nominees (to go by yesterday’s Gurus of Gold posting).

“No way is it a Best Picture nominee,” she wrote this morning. “This is a beautifully shot, self-centered, self-absorbed [film] about a selfish, psychologically damaged brat named Chris McCandless who died of starvation and poisoning while living in a bus in the Alaskan woods. How is this heroic? Why in the world would we admire this guy? He’s pathetic, not heroic. My screening companion asked me if he was mentally ill.

“McCandless’ quest for meaning would have been better served helping people instead of indulging his sense of au natural purity and while contemplating his navel. His story is a tragedy not because he died, but because he died for nothing, proving nothing, finding nothing.

“And his rage against his family? They didn’t beat him, hurt him, deprive him. They were sad and confused people who lied about their past to protect their children, not hurt them. They didn’t seem so horrible after all compared to what he did to them and to his sister, wich was just cruel. Not to call or write for two years? What a reprehensible thing to do. Certainly not the stuff of true heroism.”