Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wild - Movie Review

Wild is a film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and is based on the true story which was written by Nick Hornby and Cheryl Strayed. Reese Witherspoon stars in the movie along with Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, and a whole bunch of wilderness along the Pacific Crest Trail.

After a rough childhood and a tumultuous marriage sends Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon) free falling into a life of drug abuse and promiscuity, she is left with basically nothing in her life and nowhere to go. With little choices available to her, she decides to go on a journey that she hopes will cleanse her body and soul while giving her a fresh start on a life that is pretty much at a dead end. The physical part of her journey consists of over 1,000 miles of trail hiking along the Pacific Coast trail which, while no easy task, may not be as difficult as the emotional voyage she is about to take.

For the most part, this movie is a one woman show with Reese Witherspoon sharing the majority of the film's two hour run time with nothing but trees, mountains, rivers, hills, and rocks. These are the moments where she really has a chance to shine as you really get a sense of the emotional turmoil going on in Ms Strayed's head and heart during this pivotal time in her life. At the beginning of the film, you see a scared little girl completely lost and not having any idea where she is going and, by the end, she has transformed into a young woman who has a much better grasp of who she is and what she wants to accomplish in life.

From a story telling perspective, there are a lot of things to like about this movie. There is an uplifting story of redemption and survival paired with some truly beautiful cinematography that especially showcases what we up here in the Pacific Northwest have been fortunate enough to live with our entire lives. While Strayed's physical journey through the wilderness is both entertaining and dramatically satisfying, I felt like the emotional part of her journey, which is played out through flashbacks showing her more troubled past, falls short of what was trying to be conveyed. Sure, we get to see Strayed during some seriously troubled moments in her life although I feel like this is where Vallée's direction fell short and where Witherspoon falters in her performance. She actually seems more comfortable acting out in the woods by herself than interacting with her co-stars although I do have to say that Laura Dern is pretty phenomenal as Bobbi Strayed.

Wild is a movie that should get some awards consideration but most for the performances by Witherspoon and Dern. The movie as a whole is really well done and an entertaining piece of cinema but it just doesn't pack the emotional punch necessary to be considered as one of the year's best. That being said, I would still recommend this movie as one you should definitely see.


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