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|A Walk in the Woods|
dir Ken Kwapis
scr Rick Kerb, Bill Holderman
prd Robert Redford, Bill Holderman, Chip Diggins
with Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Schaal, Nick Offerman, Susan McPhail, R Keith Harris, Linds Edwards, Hayley Lovitt, Valerie Payton, John Kap
release US 2.Sep.15, UK 18.Sep.15
Nature boys: Redford and Nolte
SUNDANCE FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A relaxed pace, beautiful landscapes and a sharp sense of humour bring Bill Bryson's book to the big screen. It has just as strong a kick as last year's Wild, but without the preachy slant, offering instead a gently insightful romp through nature for two creaky old men.
After living in Britain for 20 years, Bill (Redford) suddenly decides to walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. His wife (Thompson) thinks he's nuts, insisting that he take someone with him. But the only friend available is Katz (Nolte), a wheezing ex-alcoholic with whom Bill had deliberately lost contact. But off they go, having a series of small adventures along the way as they begin to open up to each other about the trip they took decades earlier through Europe, as well as where they are in their lives now.
Redford and Nolte are a surprisingly engaging double act, both too old to be doing this kind of thing, as evidenced by the fit young people who fly past them on the trail. They give Bill and Katz a tenacity that makes it clear they can do this. And their interaction with others along the way provides plenty of laughter, especially Schaal's obnoxious hiker, Steenburgen's super-helpful hotel owner and McPail as a woman who flirts shamelessly with Katz, causing some slapstick fallout.
While the setting offers plenty of spectacular scenery, including some terrific details, the key set-pieces are obviously shot on a film set with green-screen backdrops. This makes the few moments of contrived adventure feel utterly toothless, especially the night the guys are trapped on a papier mache mountain ledge. But encounters with the colourful hikers on the trail, in lodges and camps are pretty hilarious, plus a witty face-off with a pair of grizzly bears.
Thankfully, director Kwapis never over-eggs the sentiment, allowing meaning to seep through organically. The film's focus is on the relationship between these two men, which needs quite a bit of healing at the start and finds it in understated ways. More interesting is what the film says about the need to step out of life's rat-race and get back to the core of what makes us human. Not many of us do that, and if this film doesn't make you want to cut yourself off even for a few days, you need to know that there's probably something wrong with you.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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