A Walk in the Woods: Film Review

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I know very little about Bill Bryson so I expected A Walk in the Woods to be some journey of self-discovery like Wild or Into the Wild, where someone takes on a ridiculous hiking challenge and becomes a better person because of it. However, this is totally different – it is more of a buddy comedy and that makes it both exciting and refreshing.

One day Bill (Robert Redford) decides he wants to walk the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail for no real reason except to do it. His wife (Emma Thompson) insists he finds a travel companion as he is aging and the challenging journey takes five months but Bill cannot find anyone up for it. That’s until he receives a phone call from old childhood friend Stephen (Nick Nolte), a former drunk, who reckons he is fit enough to take on the trail.

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This is definitely a buddy movie as it is all about their clashing personalities/lifestyle differences and the leads reminiscing on old times. Bill is now in a stable marriage with children whereas Stephen is a reformed alcoholic with a serious eye for the ladies. Their chemistry and banter, and shared struggle on the trail due to age or ill-health is brilliant. I laughed out loud a lot. Nolte is given some brilliant lines and they encounter some intriguing characters (Kristen Schaal as the over-talkative Mary Ellen is the best) and some hilarious scenarios – confronting bears and a run-in with the wrong lady at a laundrette are highlights.

I enjoyed everything about it except the ending, which had a bit of a letdown feeling – which you won’t get if you’ve read the book! The scenery is stunning but there is one scene on a cliff edge where it is so obviously fake that it took me out of the action. Besides that, it really is a nice little film and I enjoyed it immensely.

In cinemas 18th September 

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