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A Walk in the Woods

September 10, 2015 by Alison Bailes divider image

A more apt title might be “A Slow Shuffle along a Path”. But that doesn’t have quite the same ring does it? Adapting the 1998 memoir/travelogue by Bill Bryson, director Ken Kwapis (“He’s Just Not That Into You”, “License to Wed”) and producer Robert Redford hope to rope in some eager book fans expecting a […]


A more apt title might be “A Slow Shuffle along a Path”. But that doesn’t have quite the same ring does it? Adapting the 1998 memoir/travelogue by Bill Bryson, director Ken Kwapis (“He’s Just Not That Into You”, “License to Wed”) and producer Robert Redford hope to rope in some eager book fans expecting a similarly good time.  My advice? Pick up the paperback again and skip this dull ramble.

Redford spent ten years bringing this project to the screen and perhaps ten years ago, when he was just 69, he might have made a better fit for the rotund, jovial Bryson. But I doubt it.  His miscasting is the first major problem.  When Bryson embarked on his 2,200 mile hike from Georgia to Maine, he was in his mid-forties. Now I don’t know Bryson obviously, but having read and enjoyed many of his musings on topics as wide-ranging as Australia, Shakespeare and the English language, he strikes me as a gregarious, chatty individual with a sharp mind and a quick wit. Nothing about Redford’s dour performance is in line with the author of “Notes from a Small Island” or “Made in America”, including his trim, fit physique.

The film begins with a tongue-tied Bryson (Redford) being bullied by an obnoxious, aggressive talk show host as he pitches his latest book.  Played for maximum discomfort, the scene is neither funny nor realistic in any way. This and the death of one of his peers put Bryson in a contemplative mood, and soon he sets his sights on a hike to clear his mind. “I’m not writing a book”, he claims constantly, in what is meant to be a meta-wink at the audience. Continue reading here…


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