Being a woman in our society is very difficult. They are diminished everywhere, seen as weak and fragile, objectified, earn less than their male counterparts at work, and suffer psychic and even physical aggression. Walking down the street can be even dangerous if you are female. In “Livre,” director Jean-Marc Vallée takes the viewer to see life through a woman’s eyes for 115 minutes, and the experience is impressive and sometimes terrifying. A visit to www.loomee-tv.de will be essential here.
Behind the Story
Based on an autobiographical book, the film tells the story of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), who decides to take an 1100-mile trail that, stretches from the US-Mexico border to the Canadian border and runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, she faces difficulties and recalls past wounds.
It soon becomes clear that Cheryl’s trip has two goals: a temporary escape from the world and a search for her. Over time, director and screenwriter Nick Hornby author of the book that inspired the great High Fidelity to make it clear that walking the trail also becomes a kind of personal ordeal for the character of Witherspoon.
Most interesting of the journey, however, is the way Vallée leads the viewer to identify with Cheryl. The audience is also taken on a journey through the memories and thoughts of the character. Thus, when she hears a familiar song, images of her memory of the situation in which she heard the song soon emerge. This can also be seen in a scene in which the protagonist finding a whistle recalls a past sexual moment. These flashbacks are very well sewn into the narrative by the great montage of Martin Pensa and Vallée himself who uses the pseudonym John Mac McMurphy in this role.
The director and screenwriter also comment on the sexism of society through virtually every male figure seen during the projection. In “Free,” men emerge as real potential threats that can rape or hurt Cheryl at any time. Even those who are not threatening make misogynistic comments. An example of this is the young people the character encounters at one point and who think she has an advantage over them by being a woman. Even the protagonist’s ex-husband (lived by Thomas Sadoski), who appears to be a good person, emerges as a figure who has the ability to hurt her due to their time together and past trauma. The only man who treats Whiterspoon’s character well is a little boy she meets in the woods, and he is proof that misogyny is a social construct and not something natural to a human being.
Hornby’s script also excels in building symbols. One of those representations that recur during the projection is the eyes of Cheryl’s mother, lived by Laura Dern, who, thanks to their injured form, become synonymous with something bad.
Major responsible for the success of “Livre” is Reese Witherspoon who delivers in this feature one of the best performances of his career. The actress proves to be a perfect choice for Cheryl’s living thanks to her fragile appearance, which the director explores well in scenes such as where she tries to carry the weight of her own backpack for the first time. But Witherspoon proves the strength and complexity of his character. The actress convinces as a teenager in her younger scenes something rare both for her looks and for her cruel behavior typical of this stage of life.