Photo Credit: OregonLive.com Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”
Director Jean Marc-Vallee, whom last directed both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to the Oscar podium at the Kodak theatre, returns with another tale about a personal struggle. One involving that of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), who claims she’ll “walk herself to be the person her mother raised to be” before she faces the world and its consequences once more. However, Stayed who originally went by the name of Nyland before her mother’s passing will have to get over her addiction to drugs and sex before this is even possible. Wild is based on Cheryl’s memoir “From lost to found on the Pacific crest trail”. Reese Witherspoon hasn’t done much of late, but this is easily her best film since winning the Oscar in James Mangold’s Walk the line.
Wild painfully opens with Cheryl pulling off her dead toenail as a result of wearing boots that were to tight. At this point she’s midway though her journey and fighting to continue on it as mutters to herself she can quit at any time. Such a journey can only be praised as she walks one thousand miles from the Mojave Desert to the border between Oregon and Washington. Like Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours the film cuts back to events that have happened in the past. A majority of which are with Sheryl’s mom Bobbi (Laura Dern) as they attend college together and even playing in the field as child. These are the events that inspire Sheryl to become better, but not every memory is a good memory as she even recalls the start of her heroin addiction.
Although Sheryl walked a good portion of the trail herself many times throughout the film she gets a ride. With the friendly Frank (W. Earl Brown) who gives her a warm meal and a bath or the counterculterists that gave her a ride midway to her final stretch on the trail. Sheryl had help regardless if she was getting though her personal issues or not, even the cook at Kennedy meadows, her first stop told her what she needed to ditch from her “Monster” backpack of supplies.
Wild was primarily shot with natural light and that often would dictate how Director Jean Marc-Vallee and Cinematographer Yves Belanger would shoot a scene. As beautiful as the film looks this is entirely noticeable in some opening shots as a trying to sleep Sheryl cringes with every noise a rabbit far off in the distance makes. There are two or three cuts of black and then finally the rabbit is seen. But he isn’t noticeable until he moves.
As the evening of the Oscars is soon upon us Wild sees Reese Witherspoon once more potentially a frontrunner for the gold statue. As reported this year has been lacking on powerful performances in the female category, something a bit troubling as I look forward to them. Gone Girl was one and Still Alice is certainly another. This leaves two big holes to fill and it just may be hard for the academy to dip them up.The Hyperlinked article mentions Amy Adams could be up again, but it was shot down once more.
Wild certainly may not be all that wild, but it does tell a nice story of redemption and the desire to move on in life. It’s not a film that will be easily forgotten either as personal struggles are often the hardest to watch. Don’t go into this expecting Dallas Buyers Club 2 because this simply isn’t it. It heavily deals with loss and the desire to do better and make one self better. As it takes someone though the hardest point her life.