DIRECTOR: Jean-Marc Vallée CAST: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffman, Keene McRae, Thomas Sadoski

  • Golden Globes
      • Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama (Reese Witherspoon)

RATING – 8.5 out of 10

  • Acting – 7 out of 10
    • Reese Witherspoon gave a very impressive performance as a woman on a road to redemption. Laura Dern was magnificent as her mother, and she should really be getting praises for her performance. My only qualm was with Keene McRae, who played Witherspoon’s little brother. He came stumbling in intoxicated and/or high, and his performance was like someone who was acting intoxicated or high; it was as though he had never been around anyone who had ever been stoned or drunk. Even the little boy with the alpaca gave a powerful and lasting performance, and he was only onscreen for about 4 minutes.
  • Writing/Dialogue – 10 out of 10
    • Reese Witherspoon’s inner monologue was so real, both delightful and heartbreaking. The writers kept the story intriguing with flashbacks during scenes where she was isolated.
  • Diversity – 7 out of 10
    • A mother’s death sends her daughter into a downward spiral of sexual promiscuity and drug addiction that ultimately leads to the destruction of her marriage. It is the threat of an unexpected pregnancy that jolts her back to reality; she fears that she will end up like her mother and that her child will end up like her. To regain control of her life and to find herself, she embarks on a 3-month adventure, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from southern California, above the Mexican border, all the way up into Canada. This film explores the very heart of feminism. It demonstrates the resilience and determination of not just the human condition but also the strength of the female sex. Almost every single male in this film is portrayed as a misogynistic pig. The film shows that there are varying degrees of misogyny. There’s the obvious one: the depraved hunter and would-be rapist she encounters toward the end of her journey; but then there’s the less-obvious but equally as vile ones: the park ranger who calls her “good lookin'” and offers a quid pro quo, her package in exchange for a date; and the benevolent farmer who offers her a hot meal and a place to stay, but expresses his belief that a man should never allow his wife to hike such a trail. She overcame over one thousand miles of wilderness, solo, and her greatest threat was neither Mother Nature nor wild animals. Her greatest threat was the domineering oppression and sexual deviance of the male sex.
  • Cinematography – 10 out of 10
    • Absolutely spectacular cinematography. Harsh, yet beautiful.
  • Musical Score & Sound Editing – 10 out of 10
    • There was very little music in this film. What music there was, was her reminiscing about a song from her childhood. The fact that there was so little of it underscored the film’s theme of isolation quite nicely. The sound was spot-on, despite the fact that we had to listen to chewing a lot.
  • Costumes, Makeup, & Hairstylings – 6 out of 10
    • This was really the one major issue I had with the film. They did a fantastic job of making her clothes look filthy and her hair greasy and every other part of her body dirty, except for her face. Though she seemed to not be wearing any makeup through the hiking parts of the film, her face was never dirty. There were times when she had cuts on her brow or her temple, but her face was always clean.
  • Plot/Story – 10 out of 10
    • This is a very important film, for reasons I have explained in the Diversity section of this review.
  • Time – 10 out of 10
    • The film was very good about letting us know what day of the journey we were on. The first and final stretches of the hike had the longest runtime, which was perfect, because the beginning and end of such a long endeavour always seem to last the longest to us. For at the beginning we only want it to be over, only being able to think about just how far we still have to go; when toward the end, we feel ourselves drawing ever closer that we, once more, only want it to be over.
  • Grandiosity vs. Humility – 7 out of 10
    • There are a few moments during the film that make you think that this film was made solely with the Oscars in mind.

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