Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Cast: Reese Witherspoon
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: January 16th
Following in the footsteps of Into The Wild or last year’s overlooked gem Tracks, Wild tells the story of a person going on a long walk in order to find themselves. This time round we’ve got Reece Witherspoon playing real-life stroller Cheryl Strayed, a woman so badly emotionally damaged that any actress worth their salt will see her for the Oscar potential that she truly is.
Whereas with Into The Wild there was little to keep Emile Hirsche company but the sounds of his own thoughts, and Mia Wasikowska had only a dog and some camels for company in Tracks, Witherspoon just keeps running into folk while walking the 1,000 miles from Mexico to Canada. What has a woman got to do to get some alone time for a little self-discovery? Along the way she runs into fellow hikers, some friendly farmers and some not-so-friendly hunters, and throughout it all there’s an all-pervading air of sexual menace to every man that she crosses paths with.
This could merely be a reflection of Strayed’s own extra-marital past, as we catch up with her through flashbacks, finding out that she never truly recovered from the death of her loving mother (Laura Dern, who between this and The Fault In Our Stars is cornering the market in awesome moms), as well as turning to grade-A drugs and other men in order to self-destruct her happy marriage to The Newsroom’s Thomas Sadoski.
Just like Dallas Buyers Club, director Jean-Marc Vallee tells a masterful version of a type of story you’ve seen done many times before, coupled with the beautifully changing vistas as Strayed powers through America’s western coast, as well as Witherspoon’s nuanced, raw performance and a thoughtful screenplay by novelist Nick Hornby.
The film never gets especially insightful; why exactly Strayed reacted so badly to her mother’s death is never really traversed, nor why her not-so-spectacular story deserves the big screen treatment, but perhaps that is exactly the why of it. Bad things happen to everyone, everyone reacts differently, and every battle we have within ourselves that results in personal triumph is worthy of celebration.