From director Jean-Marc Vallée (Café de Flore, Dallas Buyers Club) comes this drama based on the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) is a young woman desperate to escape her troubled life of drug use and promiscuous sex. As her way to find herself, Cheryl decides to hike the thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. As she faces the many challenges on this trek into the wilderness, Cheryl flashes back to the events that lead her on this journey, much of which is centred on Cheryl’s relationship with her mother Bobbi (Laura Dern).
It is probably safe to say at this point that Quebecois director Jean-Marc Vallée has broken through into the mainstream. Becoming known in Canada for films such as C.R.A.Z.Y. and Café de Flore, Vallée finally hit it big last year with Dallas Buyers Club, which ended up winning three Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Wild continues this career transition for Jean-Marc Vallée, as he directs this Nick Hornby-penned adaptation of the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, which is produced by and stars Reese Witherspoon.
It’s quite a coincidence that Wild is coming out the same year as the Australian film Tracks, which is similarly based on the memoir of a woman, who went on a solo journey. Perhaps it is because I saw the film first, but I have to say that I probably like Tracks slightly better than Wild. However, I also thought that Wild was a decent enough film for what it was.
One thing that Wild has going against it is that the film gets quite melodramatic at times. Through her flashbacks, the film really emphasizes how terrible Cheryl’s life had become. Whether it be family tragedy, her self-destructive drug use and promiscuity, and her divorce from her husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski), the film has some quite heavy moments. Also, even though Wild is based on true events, I do find it a bit hard to see the logic in how taking a very long hike will help improve someone’s life. I suppose this journey just gives Cheryl a lot of time to think about her life so far, which would help her on her quest to improve it.
It’s been nearly a decade since Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for her role in Walk the Line and I would say that her performance in Wild is at least good enough to get a nomination. However, the better performance in the film goes to Laura Dern, who appears in the film’s flashbacks as Cheryl’s mother Bobbi. It has been years since Dern has done anything of note and it would definitely be great if she gets a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in this film.
Overall, despite the few issues I have with it, Wild was a decent enough soul-searching movie.8 | LIKED IT