Wild comes to us from the director of Dallas Buyers Club and stars Resse Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed. It’s the true story of a woman who decided to take a thousand mile hike in attempt to move on from a series of serious tragedies that recently occurred in her life. I love Dallas Buyers Club. I thought it was a very different movie, a movie that approached storytelling in a strange and clever way. I’m really fond of the way Jean-Marc Vallée handled it. Therefore, I was excited to see how he would handle Wild, and Reese Witherspoon is an actress that I have admired for a long time. She’s beautiful, funny and very talented, and in this movie she delivers probably her best performance to date. This movie faces a lot of challenges though. For one, it’s a movie about someone hiking. Who watches movies about hiking? It’s really tough to make that interesting for two hours, but I think they mostly pull it off.
From what I’ve heard, Wild is very true to the book, which is awesome for people who are fans of the book. I am not one of those people. The way the movie tells its story is a bit awkward at first. You’re just in the hike, instantly, like right from the beginning she’s already in it. As she encounters various things on the way they remind her of her past, and that’s when we see flashbacks. From these memories we slowly learn why she is the way she is. It’s different, very nonlinear, but it did take a while for me to understand why she was doing some of the things she was doing. They hide a lot for a long time. I get it. You want to keep some secrets about the character. You want her to seem exciting, and you want to keep the audience interested. This works in a lot of cases, but there are also many times where the film suffers from this slow reveal style of storytelling.
One of the things that I loved about Reese Witherspoon’s performance is that it’s totally unglamorous. There is literally nothing about this role that’s, “Look at me, I’m beautiful and my farts smell like roses.” Instead, she ends up being more like, “I’m sweaty, I’m dirty and I’m pooping in the woods.” She just felt like a normal person, and I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who will respond to that positively. That was one of the things I loved about her character, while most of the time she was extremely courageous their were other times where she appeared to be a hopeless little girl trekking through the mountains. And as the story continues, she becomes even more likable. What can I say, there’s just something about a beautiful woman humming some Simon and Garfunkel lyrics.
I do have some issues with the movie though, and a lot of them are storytelling based. Now that I’ve seen the movie, and I’ve done some research on the actual woman, I know that the expedition was exceedingly special to her, but while you’re watching the movie it was hard to feel the significance of her journey because the film doesn’t show us why something is important until much later on. When said character does something that seems illogical she comes off as bizarre or weird, while in reality, had we known a little more about Cheryl we would had made the connection to not only the situation at hand, but her as well. Again, I do understand that you want your main character to be interesting, but she can’t be interesting if I don’t care about what she’s doing. There are just too many times it was hard to relate to the character. However, once you figure out what she’s been going through and how tough it’s been for her, you start to understand her and ultimately want her to succeed.
You really do care about her once you figure things out, but Wild isn’t as intriguing as it should be. The story is great, but it doesn’t hit its stride until about halfway through. It’s then that you really start to appreciate Cheryl and her story. Wild was an interesting, entertaining and different adventure that I never imagined I’d ever take. I’m happy I did, as I never thought, in my wildest dreams, that I’d hear America’s sweetheart curse so much. The cinematography, the music and Reese Witherspoon’s performance definitely shine the brightest. Speaking of which, I felt like I watching a person just being a person, and that’s pretty cool to see on the big screen. I do think Wild is a bit over hyped. It’s not nearly as good as Dallas Buyers Club, but I do think it is worth the hike to your local cinema.
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