In Theatres: 
Dec 12, 2014
Running Time: 
115 minutes

When Strayed’s mother is diagnosed with cancer and declines far faster than anyone predicted, Chery’s life collapses. Having the love knocked right out of her, loss takes place and Cheryl rides the grief and despair without any resistance.  This eventually destroys the ther marriage and relationship with her brother. Cheryl becomes someone she herself doesn’t recognize. With this 2,663 mile trek, she hopes to walk herself into the woman her mother always believed her to be.

The landscape of the film is breath taking. Strayed hikes through boiling desert heat, several feet of snow, rocky mountains and lush forests.  Having no experience with hiking, she over preps and can barely carry the weight of backpack, just as she can barely carry the weight of her past.  Flashbacks are employed to tell Strayed’s story and this can be risky. However, the choice to use these flashbacks as punctuations in the present, like unwelcome memories, give them a genuine feeling.

Witherspoon delivers a fantastic performance as Cheryl Strayed. She looks haggard, haunted, hungry, and yet she keeps on walking.  She pushes forward with the desperation that things must change, that she must heal and get better. Witherspoon is committed and mesmerizing.

The journey is harrowing in the immense distance and immense emotions that she explores.  For such a deeply personal story full of loss, fear, and betrayal, there are many moments of  real humor. You’re with Strayed every step of the way. Her weariness is weighty, but her determination is uplifting and every inch of redemption is hard earned.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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