A year and a half ago, I reviewed the book this movie is based on. (I remember it as a four star read, so I’m surprised to look back and see I gave it five stars!) And in many ways I liked the movie better, so it is interesting that I am contemplating only giving the movie version 3 stars. I’m a bit conflicted, I guess because the beauty added by the visuals of the panoramic vistas were more than offset by the disturbingly graphic portrayal of the rest of the scenes.
The idea from my book review of an epilogue, might have worked better for the ending. As it is, in both the book and the movie, it ends abruptly without much sense of closure, which feels especially odd after so much intense sharing.
Most of what makes the ending unsatisfying is that it is not clear anything will be different after the hike, because she chose acceptance of her horrible mistakes over forgiveness of them which would have been much more powerful and empowering. How do you leverage acceptance into changed behavior? For example, how has her issues with men (that stem from her father) been healed? What is to prevent her from spiraling back down again into another mire of self loathing?
I’m glad we did not bring our 17 year old to see this with us; the R rating is for explicit drug and consensual sex scenes of all the worst kind, that while relevant to the story, are not images I like to see acted out any more than lived. Is it a cautionary enough tale to stop others from following these paths to self-destruction? I thought not. I would have preferred a more clear denouncing of these painful and foolish actions.
The good part of the movie is the scenery along the Pacific Crest Trail, which was a treat, but not as gorgeous or compelling as I expected, with the exception of the Crater Lake campsite. There is no question that hiking this trail is a major undertaking, and that it would be cathartic, but unwise, to do alone.
My major take-away from this film is gratitude that I’ve only been through the tough stuff that I have. (I could have made worse choices!) I am also thankful that I have direct ways to face my stuff (painting, poetry and prayer… yeah! …and yes, nature too) so I don’t need to hike 1000 miles to get to it. Still, who knows, I may hike that trail yet, and we’ll see then who I’d be!