Based on the novel by bestselling author, David Baldacci, Wish You Well is a feast for the eyes, with lush green hills languishing the screen from beginning to end, drawing the viewer into the old-world charm of 1940s Virginia.
When ten year old Lou (Mackenzie Foy, Interstellar) and her seven year old brother Oz (JP Vanderloo) begin their new life in Virginia, Lou struggles with painful memories of the car accident that killed their father, Jack Cardinal, and left their mother, Amanda, in a catatonic state.
Leaving Chicago, the children’s great grandmother, Louisa Mae (Ellen Burstyn, Interstellar), takes Lou, Oz and their traumatised mother into her home on the family farm. This new life in Virginia throws their childhood into a spin and causes the children to have to deal with issues beyond their years.
Antagonist George Davis (Ned Bellamy, Seinfeld), is the aggressive and abusive father of Lou’s school mate Billy, who seems determined to make life difficult for Louisa Mae despite the kindnesses she has shown to his family.
Louisa Mae, is no push over, and as George Davis assists a powerful coal company in buying up the land on the mountain, Louisa Mae fights back with the help of local lawyer, Cotton Longfellow (Josh Lucas, A Beautiful Mind).
Cotton is a great admirer of Lou’s father’s work. Having won many awards for his literary work, Jack Cardinal had been a successful and well known author, writing books about his home on the Virginian mountain. Cotton spends many hours reading these books to Amanda in the hope of bringing her out of her traumatised state. Oz also has hope for his mother’s recovery but his sister Lou, struggles with her anger and is reluctant to believe her mother will ever recover.
Lou finds strength from her best friend Diamond, who helps to inspire hope in her with his wise stories and mature grasp on life. Having been orphaned himself at a young age, Diamond encourages her to never lose hope in anyone who still has life.
As Lou journeys through many struggles, she finds that her roots delve deep within her family home. With family history and secrets revealed, Lou helps in the fight to save the farm in any way she can. Inheriting her father’s literary gifts, Lou develops her own storytelling and enters a writing competition with a money prize attached to it which could be of great help to her great grandmother. This journey is also frustrating for her but she perseveres through yet another heart-breaking tragedy, growing all the more determined with each step.
With themes of tragedy, grief, financial hardship, racial disharmony and small town politics, we see the strength of the human spirit shine through. Will Amanda recover from her mental trauma? What is the mystery surrounding Jack Cardinal? And will the farm be saved?
Wish You Well, with its breathtaking cinematography and superb acting, is a well-grounded film portraying triumph over tragedy and hope in the silver linings of life.