Find yourself. So this is about a young, rogue woman, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), who makes the decision to hike over 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail that stretches from U.S./Mexican border to the U.S./Canadian border. This is more of a therapeutic process than anything, and it is a feat of survival as she attempts to complete this perilous task. I thought this looked a lot like 2007’s Into the Wild, and no, it’s not because they both have the word “Wild” in the title. They are both road trip movies that take place in the wilderness, focusing on protagonists that have a different mindset than the masses. In this regard, I am totally with the masses, because after a few camping trips in this lifetime, I simply do not see the appeal of sleeping in a tent.
We have worked for thousands of years so that we can sleep indoors with air conditioning, who am I to resist evolution?
Given that I am in my Oscar push portion of the year and I am seeing a lot of the high caliber movies in a very concentrated amount of time, I feel that the Academy got it right on this movie: a couple of acting nominations, and that’s it. Laura Dern is only featured for a very brief amount of time in this film, but she makes the most of her screen time, delivering a noteworthy performance with limited material. In addition to that, you have Reese Witherspoon in what is easily the best role of her career. It’s a physical performance where she is just wasting away in the wilderness, and she succeeds in every single scene. Also, this is a very feminine movie, and whenever there’s a male on screen, you are able to put yourself squarely in her shoes, worried for her well-being and for her womanhood.
Dealing with the hardships from nature isn’t hard enough, you also have to deal with backwater Deliverance types as well.
This isn’t just a one woman show, and she meets people along the way, and whenever there is a new encounter, it works. You get lots of flashbacks spliced into the through story, and the thing I most enjoyed about this is how well it is put together. Being that I am streamlining so many movies at once, I am having a lot of time to actually dwell on them between reviews, and after a week and a half of thought on it, I feel less strongly than I did initially about this. I am not incapable of enjoying an outdoorsy movie, like 127 Hours for example, but where I had a bit of a disconnect is that it is never made abundantly clear to me why it is she is doing this trek. It even addresses this in the beginning, leaving an ellipsis at the end of a phone call, but it never fulfills its promise by answering its own presented question. Bottom line, this is still a good movie about coping with loss, you’re not going to find a better Reese Witherspoon movie out there, and it has a good craft to it.
Wild (2014) ***1/2
– Critic for Hire