A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe. Written by imdb
December 8, 2014
Wild is One Reese Witherspoon’s Career Defining Roles. A Very Strong Performance.
In the movie Wild (2014), Reese Witherspoon plays the real life Cheryl Strayed, a woman tortured by personal demons who makes a 1,100 mile hike from Mexico to Canada. Along with the evils of nature and evil nature of man she encounters, Cheryl is on a deep journey of self discovery. The movie is based on the real Cheryl Strayed’s book of the same name. (I didn’t read it) The real Cheryl has a cameo as the first person to pick up Reese’s Cheryl hitchhiking. This is director Jean-Marc Vallee’s follow up to last years critical success, Dallas Buyers Club (2013).
Wild is a great showcase for Reese Witherspoon’s acting talent. From the first seen, the movie sets you up for how painful the journey will be with a do-it-yourself podiatry work scene on a broken toenail. From there on out the pacing is deliberately slow yet methodical. Self discovery requires much time spent pondering life and flash backs. Laura Dern gives a heart breaking performance as Cheryl’s dying mother. Reese has reached a new level in here career with Wild. Cheryl is not a glamorous singer like June Carter, in Walk the Line (2005). One can’t help but be reminded of Emile Hirsch’s role in Into the Wild (2007), or James Franco’s 127 Hours (2010). To call Wild the female version of these is not to do it justice, Reese’s performance is on the same level. No need to account for gender. I have always been a big Reese Witherspoon fan. Only not the Rom-Com, mainstream Reese; not a fan of the Legally Blonde (2001) series or movies like Sweet Home Alabama (2002). I first fell in love with Reese with Mark Wahlberg in Fear (1996). Then it was Freeway (1996) and Election (1999) that solidified her as a very eclectic, fun actress. If you haven’t seen either of those movies, check them out if you are a Reese fan. I think its interesting this role in Wild is also directed by the same director as Dallas Buyers Club. I think Reese has a very similar career path as Matthew McCaunehey. Both with southern twang and charm who built strong box office credibility with romantic comedies. Now in the second half of their career they are pushing with more challenging roles. Reese’s performance in Wild should earn her a nomination for best actress this year.
Also not to go unmentioned in this film is its solid soundtrack. Simon and Garfunkle’s El Condor Pasa/ If I Could, will haunt you well after the movie is over. The songs play out in echoes, like music from memory in a long time spent reflecting. Songs you just can’t get out of your head in the soundtrack of life. I love the use of Portis Head’s Glory Box in the more ominous drug and sex scenes. That song is a great mood setter. I was excited to recognize Everclear front man Art Alexakis in a small cameo as a tattoo artist. The closing credits has one of my new favorites, Swedish Band First Aid Kit doing a cover of R.E.M’s Walk Unafraid.
In reflecting on this movie, I feel inspired to go on a similar journey. In our modern lives, with all the chaos of technology it becomes a fantasy to “go off the grid”. I think in contrast this could be a very comforting story during the crazy holiday season. Similar to 127 Hours or Into The Wild, yet with far less dire outcomes, this movie is about the triumph of the human spirit. The lesson being that its the ups and downs of life that make the journey all worth it.
I’ll admit … this movie is much better than expected. The trailer turned me off a bit — it seemed like a long, boring movie that would bring me back to 127 Hours again. No thank you.
I was pleasantly surprised. Yes… this is a story about one woman’s journey across our amazing country. It is also a story about the people around her — the people she interacts with for minutes, months and milestones. It’s not merely a woman walking for two hours on the screen … it’s a great mix of beauty, pain, courage, fear and something all of us struggle with, forgiveness.
While I was suspect of the movie, I was not worried about Reese Witherspoon giving us a great performance. First of all — how it is possible this woman looks great in EVERYTHING!?!? As Elle Woods in Legally Blonde she wore pink to perfection. In Walk the Line she pulled off classic country in a way that even Dolly would have to say is pretty fabulous. And as Cheryl Strayed I left the theatre feeling like I needed to run to REI and pick up a pair of hiking boots and grey socks! Folks are debating online if she is one of America’s sweethearts … in my opinion … she defines it. You can’t help but like her. And if you aren’t a Reese fan, check out Wild just to see her in this anti-Elle Woods role. I believe you will gain some respect for her.
Over the last 24 hours I was wondering if I would recommend this as a movie for you to pick when it’s your turn. Yes. It’s a great movie. Yes. Men can handle it (though I’m sure they will whine as you drag them there). Yes. You’ll walk away with your heart tugged and perhaps a tear or two. So yes … I do recommend Wild if it is your turn to pick. If you love someone, lost someone, are searching for someone — there is a strong chance this movie will unexpectedly strike that chord. Why? Because Wild does a wonderful job sharing a life story all of us can relate to in someway. This isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster script — it’s a script about everyday life that always isn’t pretty. The guy doesn’t always get the girl. The dreams don’t always come true. Answers aren’t just straight ahead. All of us have a Wild story in our life … spending two hours watching Cheryl share hers is well worth your time and money.