I've always thought Chris/Alex was a bit of an idiot for doing what he did, but I can also understand what he was looking for. I liked parts of the book better than I liked the movie as a whole, mostly because the movie glorified his actions while the book was trying to explain them in a more or less neutral way. His story kind of reminds me of Grizzly Man/Timothy Treadwell.
Movies that made me feel that way: The Black Stallion, Swing Kids. I would get so homesick during college, all I wanted was to ride my horse, and I'd watch The Black Stallion and cry. Swing Kids, of course, has a terribly sad ending, but the music and dancing just make me so happy.