I have to say at first I came to this film through Eddie Vedder (big Pearl Jam fan), and I'm very happy I did.
I just watched the movie on DVD, and I have read all the other reviews here, which are much better than mine as far as going into details about the film, great camera work, the history behind the story, Sean Penn's ultimate vision and so on. So I'll just convey what this film did to my emotions, while the bruises to my senses are still raw.
I was expecting to have a tough time watching this. Like most people who watched it, I knew the outcome, and felt I was prepared... I wasn't.
I really liked this kid, and I felt in a way, what he felt as he went along exploring, whatever it is he felt he had to explore. In getting me along for the ride, this movie works on every level. And the way it brings us back to that buss, little by little, while telling the story leading up to it, jerks you in and out of danger so to speak, so when the final breath is exhaled, you, or atleast I, felt like I was right there, helpess and unable to stop this from happening. And that's the crux of the whole thing to me, now, 12-15 minutes after the end credits. And when a movie does that to you... It's a work of pure art.
As for all the rest. I loved this actor, I loved the others, the hippie couple, the young girl, the old man, Vince Vaughn, the danish couple (I'm half danish, so thanks Sean, for having real danish people speak real danish in your movie!) and the sisters narrating.
And on top of it all, there's Eddie Vedder, and it's just so good!
Thank you for leaving my feelings raw like an exposed nerve. Feels good to be alive.