Based on the 2012 memoir ‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’ by Cheryl Strayed, Wild chronicles the physical, emotional and spiritual journey of a woman who sets out to hike the entire 2650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) alone. With Reese Witherspoon at the helm playing Cheryl, the viewer is carried along as she sinks to the depths of despair and scales the heights of joy. And there is a whole lot more in between.
The movie opens with Cheryl, already well into her trek, having a moment on a steep cliff edge with her boots. As she screams with desperate frustration, we are shown flashbacks which at first appear random and make little sense but before long, you begin to gain an idea of who this woman is.
And it is not a pretty picture….
Cheryl is not a one-dimensional creature, as most of us aren’t and so it does take a little time to piece together all the different Cheryls. She is the child of an abusive home, the devoted daughter of a dying mother, the non so devoted wife of a man who she does not deserve. And she is a junkie.
So when she hits rock bottom and it’s either die or fight, she begins the long, hard haul back to her life.
Wild may not be a movie for everyone. It is raw and honest and while comparisons to 2007’s Into the Wild (an amazing movie) are inevitable, the two are nothing alike. Cheryl does not choose to abandon a wonderful life to go and live in the woods, she makes a conscious choice to leave herself behind and emerge, almost literally, a different person at the other end.
If I had to compare Wild to any other movie, it would the The Way (you can read my review here and this is another amazing movie) which was more about the spiritual journey than the forgoing of one’s previous existence.
Laura Dern is outstanding as Cheryl’s long-suffering mother Bobbi and if there is to be an Oscar upset this year, this is the one I want.
As a woman, I found myself mirrored in some aspects of the character and repulsed by others. This movie is utterly compelling. There are no major ‘ah ha’ moments when Cheryl has an epiphany of some sort and skips happily to her destination. She meets people along the way, some who help her, some her ail her, others who are just like-minded souls on the same hike. Bobbi’s death has ripped Cheryl apart and she takes this journey not only for herself, but for her mother.
I loved this movie. I loved everything about it. It’s quiet intensity was heartbreakingly beautiful to watch. A must see for anyone who ever wondered ‘what if…. ‘
4 1/2 stars
Love Flick xx
Director : Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring : Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann, Thomas Sadoski, Keen McRae
Running Time : 115 minutes
Release Date : 22 January 2015