Wild (and five of film's longest journeys)
From her breakthrough role in Legally Blonde to her Oscar-winning turn as June Carter in James Mangold's Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, Reese Witherspoon's acting CV is already pretty diverse, but in recent years she's been expanding her horizons even further, launching her own production company Pacific Standard, who were instrumental in bringing one of last year's biggest hits - David Fincher's Gone Girl - to the big screen. Her next project, Wild, is another film based on a true story, and this time it's Witherspoon herself appearing in the lead role.
Arriving next week (May 25th) on DVD and Blu-Ray, Wild is based on the memoir of the same name by author Cheryl Strayed, this time adapted for the screen by none other than Nick Hornby and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, the man behind Dallas Buyers Club. Following the death of her mother, dalliances with heroin and the subsequent divorce from her husband of six years, Strayed decided to set out on adventure. At the age of 26 and with no previous hiking experience, Strayed set out on what would become a 1,100 mile solo trek across America on the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed's journey takes her from the California-Mexico border all the way to Washington, on a voyage of self-discovery and self-healing that ultimately turned the author into something of a feminist icon.
Witherspoon delivers a terrific yet understated performance and is joined by a talented cast that includes Laura Dern in the role of Strayed's mother, Bobbi. While much of her journey is characterised by those she meets and who are all too willing to help out, for the most part she is totally alone and it's in these scenes that Witherspoon's talent really shines through, earning nominations at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes earlier this year.
Anyone with an appetite for travel will find plenty to enjoy about Wild, the trailer for which you can find below. While you're waiting for the film to arrive in stores next week, we've picked out five of the best films featuring epic journeys...
Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, John Hillcoat's 2009 film stars Viggo Mortensen as a man trying to navigate his way through a post-apocalyptic world with his son, following an unspecified cataclysmic event that has led to the downfall of civilisation. Armed with a gun that only has two bullets, the pair spend several months trekking across the wasteland of a collapsed society, dodging gangs of cannibals in the hope of finding salvation by reaching the sea. Also starring Charlize Theron and Robert Duvall, The Road is often bleak viewing, but this is powerful stuff.
Nicholas Roeg's directorial debut stars a young Jenny Agutter as a girl who becomes stranded in the Australian outback with her little brother (Luc Roeg) when their father – who has driven them out into the wilderness for a picnic – suddenly begins acting strangely and starts shooting at his children before setting their car on fire and turning the gun on himself. The young pair begin their long trek back to civilisation and befriend and aboriginal boy (David Gulpilil) who teaches them how to find water and shares the food he has hunted. Roeg's film earned the director a Palme d'Or nomination and is a stark illustration of the differences between cultures in Australia, but it's also a human story about the way people who cannot understand each other’s' languages learn to communicate with one another. It's very cerebral and at times it's downright harrowing, but it's also beautifully shot and very moving.
The Way Back
Directed by Peter Weir, the man behind Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show, The Way Back stars Ed Harris, Colin Farrell and Mark Strong as escapees from a Soviet forced labour camp in Siberia who must travel 4,000 miles on foot to find freedom in India. Their journey takes them across miles of harsh wilderness and across the Himalayas, navigating threats from wolves to snakes, not to mention the unforgiving climates.
Based on the memoirs of a Polish prisoner of war named Sławomir Rawicz, Weir's film is as epic as the journey it depicts, with some stunning cinematography and some great performances from a talented cast that also includes Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan and Dragos Bucur. Highly recommended.
Children of Men
Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 film stars Clive Owen as a former activist turned bureaucrat named Theo Faron living in a not-too-distant future where society is on the verge of collapse due to a strange phenomenon which has left all of the planet's women infertile, except for one. Faron must band together with his former colleagues and overcome their distrust in order to try and smuggle the girl and her unborn child to the sea shore, where they have arranged for a boat to take her to safety. Also starring Julianne Moore and Michael Caine, Cuarón's sci-fi thriller dangles just on the edge of reality and is as unsettling as it is absorbing.
Trains, Planes & Automobiles
Our final pick offers a little comic relief from all the other films and stars the late John Candy alongside Steve Martin in this classic odd couple road trip movie. Martin plays an advertising executive who is making his way home for thanksgiving when bad weather forces the cancellation of his flight. As he tries various other modes of transport to make the long journey home he finds himself an unwanted companion in the form of Del Griffith (Candy), a shower ring salesman who seems to have no concept of just how intrusive and annoying he is. The tension between the pair supplies most of the laughs and the on-screen chemistry between Martin and Candy has made this film into a cult classic. It's a little dated, but it's still heaps of fun.