Guest Review by Heather of: Wild
I first heard of the film Wild when I was at the Telluride Film Festival in 2014. I knew the barest outline of the story – a young woman who had fallen into a harmful life of random sex and various drugs decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave to the Cascades with little to no backpacking experience. I was at the festival with my dad and did not end up seeing this film, thinking it was more “Hollywood” than we wanted to see at the festival this year. Also, there were other films that I wanted to convince my Dad to see, so this film went by the wayside.
Now that I have seen it, I wish I’d seen it sooner.
This movie is more than what I barely knew about it. Yes, the basic plot stated above is true. There is so much more to the story, highlighting what Hollywood does so well – tell moving stories visually. Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed – we learn that she picked her last name upon her divorce from her husband of 7 years – did a wonderful job. In essence, this is a one-woman story, and Witherspoon was able to capture the ecstasy, hardship, and ultimately contentment known only in the achievements of a long journey, both on foot and of the heart. I hope she is recognized by the Academy for her work on this film. Laura Dern is radiant in her role as Cheryl’s mother Bobbi, without whom this story would not exist. This movie masterfully tells both stories, Cheryl’s on the trail, and the story leading up to her hike.
Anyone who has spent time outdoors can connect with some of the experiences she had on the trail, and the film depicted these well enough that I experienced the sympathetic laughter of the Colorado crowd with which I watched the film.
I was hooked into the tale from the very beginning of the film. Rarely have I seen as good a start to a film as this one – with barely a word said we are brought right into the emotional arcs of the character, both a deep low on the PCT, and a glimpse into the processing of her recent past.
This film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, and has a screenplay by Nick Hornby (of About a Boy and An Education fame), with phenomenal editing by Martin Pensa and the director. It is a film not to be missed.