With absolutely no hiking experience, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) decided the only way to recover from her series of poor choices and painful life experiences was to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. Through intermittent flashbacks and voiceovers, we learn of her mother’s passing, her frequent infidelities that lead to her divorce, and her heroin addiction.
The light of the film was a fantastic performance from Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi (Academy Award nominee Laura Dern), whose struggles with an abusive husband and overwhelming care-taking instincts paired with an endlessly positive attitude all made her feel incredibly tangible. Witherspoon, however, felt like she learned how to be a recovering addict from a novel she didn’t finish.
I really, really wanted to like this movie. It had so much potential: I love the director, I love true stories, I love satisfactory endings. But the heavy-handed nature and my initial unease, which was never quelled, prevented me from being captivated. If you enjoy nature films or want to hike the PCT, maybe you’ll learn a helpful thing or two about REI return policies. I just didn't find it worth my time.