It's the most beautiful countryside where there are more trees than the Sun, and more stars than sky at night, and they help you battle demons inside you... This journey is so brilliantly recreated for film, that you need to watch it all alone, and soak it all in.
The Aborigines have a word for it: Walkabout. You step out of your comfort zone and walk into the wilderness and learn to live with the elements, tracing songlines of your ancestors, growing up... You cover miles and the physical effort is jaw-droppingly huge, but the real journey is the one that's happening inside your head...
Reese Witherspoon walks 1,100 miles through the Mojave desert in California on the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to Ashland and Crater Lake and Mount Hood in Oregon to come to terms with her life.
She's not some superwoman or a health freak or a record hungry nut marking a checklist of trails covered, she is just a woman who discovers the life between a sunrise and a sunset.
What struck a chord with me was how she learns to come to terms with grief and everything related with it. 'I'm more alone in my real life than out here,' Cheryl says to a fellow traveler. And you sit in the dark theater alone, awash with tears when you hear the still gorgeous Laura Dern admit that she's been a mother, a daughter, a wife but has never ever been in the driver's seat of her own life.
This movie is not meant for the average 'Here we are now, entertain us!' type of audience. There's Leonard Cohen and Simon & Garfunkel and the loneliness inside.
The trail resonated with me personally because I have taken shorter treks on the same trail like all tourists to after the Ashland Shakespeare Festival. It suddenly showed me the difference between car-campers sitting around the campfire with 'smores and the quiet single tent occupants who seemed to be lost. The movie simply makes you realise how little we know about ourselves and how important it is to learn to live with ourselves.
Yes, 'Alone' is a place that exists and it's a place you can be yourself - battlescarred, sad, mean, amazing, loving, lonely, happy, unhappy - but be yourself.
This movie is an adaptation of the book on the journey of Cheryl Strayed, and it will move you more than you will ever realise. It shook me and made me cry, and not that single tear cry, but a break down in the theater bathroom and blubber all over your tea cry.
Go see for yourself and when you hear Cheryl Strayed say, 'The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.' you will emerge from the movie smiling.