Review - Wild

Wild (2014), R, 115 minutes - At first glance, Wild didn't look like the sort of film that I would want to see in theaters.  But after having seen everything else locally that I wanted to, it became the obvious choice from what remained due to the high praise being received by Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern.

Wild is based on Cheryl Strayed's 2012 memoir titled Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, and recounts her thousand mile hike in the wake of a divorce, her mother's death, and drug abuse.  Witherspoon portrays Cheryl, and Dern her mother Bobbi, a strong willed woman who escaped the abuses of Cheryl's father, taking Cheryl and her younger brother with her.  Years later, after losing her mother to cancer, Cheryl goes into a tailspin, growing distant from and cheating on her husband, then eventually turning to heroin as a means of escape.  After being read the riot act by a close friend, she decides to venture off to hike the Pacific Crest Trail beginning in the Mohave Desert and going up the west coast through California and Oregon before reaching Washington State.  She's new to hiking and camping and is both over and under-prepared for the journey.  The film shows her education and growth along the way, interlaced with flashbacks illustrating how she came to be at this place in her life.

Witherspoon has received a well deserved Best Actress nomination for this year's Oscars.  She excelled at portraying the range of emotions, weaknesses and strengths that Strayed went through and developed during her journey.  Dern has also been nominated by the Academy in the Best Supporting Actress category.  From her performance you can see just how much Bobbi meant to Cheryl and how losing someone like her could send one into the dark places that Cheryl ended up.

Wild is a very interesting and entertaining film.  It is rated R primarily for drug use and some nudity, although I half expected some sort of awful camping accident scene (most likely thanks to having seen 2010's 127 Hours), but there weren't any.  It's a story about Cheryl's journey back from the brink, and the truly terrible stuff happened before her hike began.  This is probably not a film for everyone, but if you're interested in catching up on awards season nominees, it is definitely one you need to check out.


- Not so much a spoiler as my own nerdy appreciation, but I loved seeing W. Earl Brown as a supporting character.  For those who don't recognize the name, he was Dan Dority on Deadwood (one of my favorite characters from that show).


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