The wilderness does appear in the first scene of the movie, but it is actually just James walking through some woods that are not that far from civilization. In fact, he appears to be getting chased by bullies. While the same woods appear several more times, mostly in flashbacks, the wilderness he refers to is something his farther described. Most of the movie takes place in an unidentified city.
James listens to depressing music and reads depressing literature. He recently lost his father and he is having trouble relating to other people in general. For this reason his mother is sending him to a shrink. He is Danny DeVito, though the viewer might have trouble recognizing him, now gray with a beard. While in the waiting room James meets a cute girl, Val, with an attitude. Not much happens in the shrink's office and James manages to escape by claiming he needs to use the rest room. Once he does, he sees street musician Harmon.
Later James is out at night in the city despite his mother's concerns and is running from some mysterious people. He gets on a train and there is Harmon. Harmon and James become friends and begin hanging out. Harmon also has a lesbian friend Crystal who sometimes likes men too, so perhaps she is really bi. The friends get high and also go to a place where either the composers of the music were high, one have to be high to appreciate the music, or the music makes one think he or she is high. During his adventures, James sees the food truck where Val works. They end up becoming friends but have fun separately from the others, including in a wilderness area.
James got into a prestigious school, but he appears likely to waste the opportunity. He is actually having a good time being around these people who are a bad influence, though his "girlfriend" has higher moral standards.