One Bear Said To Another
A Walk In The Woods
Stars: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Nick Offerman and R. Keith Harris
Director: Ken Kwapis
Scriptwriters: Rick Kerb and Bill Halderman from Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk In The Woods”
Composer: Nathan Larson
Cinematographer: John Bailey
Route One Films/Broad Green Pictures
Rating: R for language and themed material
Running Length: 104 minutes
Robert Redford fought the sea in his last big film “All Is Lost,” in which he was alone on the water. This time, he (playing true life writer Bill Bryson) is on land and decides to walk the Appalachian Trail, only with a friend. Not alone, his wife, Catherine (Emma Thompson) insists. This is the premise of the film that features the Trail, plus lots of scenery, wildlife, eccentric characters and (Stephen) Nick Nolte), an old friend who comes along at the last minute. It is a story of writer’s block, a bucket list, friendship under stress and how a marriage survives when one spouse goes trekking in the wild. Reese Witherspoon did it last year in “Wild” and she was alone, but Bill is older, not that much wiser, and has a talkative companion along for the exercise. The Trail actually goes from Georgia to Maine.
It is by chance that Bill decides on walking the 2000-mile long Trail and what a feat and a way to break down that writer’s block. Before you can say, “did you check that list again?” the two men are off for the wilderness, one quiet and one talkative. We find out that Stephen is changing from alcoholic to sober and it is a struggle. He can't keep away from the ladies, either, and this brings in humorous incidents. Nolte is fine here.
This is a bonding story, about two men who were friends a long time ago, and like a yo-yo went away from each other and now are back together with foibles, too. Bryson is the stoic and Stephen is the talkative one, especially about Bryson’s past. On the trail they have to learn to depend on each other, and how to make a decision…which is always a challenge. The film moves at a slower pace, but there are many humorous moments, such as the time spent with a busybody hiker (Kristen Schaal), Stephen meeting a woman and there are complications there, plus those bears and getting lost and the usual perils when you are hiking (no one reads signs anymore?)
Supporting actors do well with a cast almost out of an acting school---Redford, Nolte, Thompson, along with Schaal and Offerman---they make the script work Scenery is fine and the Appalachian Trail is always a beautiful journey whether you take it on as a whole or in sections. Some people go to appreciate nature and wildlife, others for exercise, some for meeting people of similar interests and then those who just want to get away and end up with the last person you would think of.
Robert Redford is known for his conservation views and it is not forced in this movie. The Trail is just that, a trail through beautiful country and we can all appreciate that.
Copyright 2015 Marie Asner
For another Robert Redford film review, see the following
All Is Lost