A freelance writer, reviewer and broadcaster passionate about the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia's premier wine and food district.
Published September 5th 2015
Not a stroll through the meadow
Bill Bryson is known to many for his insightfully humorous travel writing, so this movie is already assured of an appreciative, if limited, audience.
Taken from his book of the same name, 'A Walk in the Woods' was not actually planned as a book (as we are continually reminded throughout the movie), but as a personal journey to assuage a mid-life crisis.
The real life Bill Bryson is played by Robert Redford, who, although is quite a bit older than the character at time of writing, carries the role off with aplomb and just the right touch of quirky humour. Nick Nolte is his frustrating, irascible travelling companion, who has invited himself along for the trip.
The woods in question are part of the USA's amazing Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, over a distance of 3,500 kilometres. The scenery is absolutely stunning and, indeed, the trail is the real star of the movie.
To Australians, the trail will look very busy as the protagonists encounter a constant stream of assorted hikers. However, as most of these are young and (presumably) fairly experienced trekkers, there is dry humour to be found in the mundane adventures of two of the older generation tackling their first major walk.
If you're looking for high drama and excitement, sex and violence, then don't bother with this one. What you get is a gentle look at a popular American pastime seen through the eyes of a couple of bickering old mates.
There is a certain amount of coarse language, but it's in the course of ongoing conversation and is not meant to deliberately offend. However, coupled with a few sexual references, it does give the movie a M rating. The performances by Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are superlative, as one would expect from actors of their calibre, while a too-short cameo underuses the talented Emma Thompson as Bryson's tolerant but anxious wife.
I have a buy one get one free movie voucher for this movie but am a little hesitant. I think some of the older movie stars are cast in roles that are not age appropriate, a self indulgence that is perhaps not true to the art form.