Reese Witherspoon stars as Cheryl Strayed, a wounded soul travelling over 1000 miles from Mexico to Canada after one too many things go wrong in her life.
After a death in the family, a marriage gone wrong and unexpected pregnancy, Cheryl decides she's made too many wrong decisions, and decides to find some clarity by walking the Pacific Crest Trail, an endeavor that will leave her bruised and tired, but might just put her life back into order.
Jean Marc Vallee, who directed "Dallas Buyers Club" to a Best Picture nomination has crafted a much more entertaining but not quite as powerful film here. He shoots the film beautifully along with cinematographer Yves Bélanger, the scenic desert and woodlands of the Pacific Crest Trail look magnificent as Witherspoon hikes through them.
Reese Witherspoon, won her Oscar back in 2005 for "Walk The Line" yet hasn't done such incredible work since, but she more than earns her recent Oscar nomination here as does Laura Dern, whose role is much smaller, but equally as compelling.
The further Cheryl strays into the wilderness, the more engrossing the story. She goes through some really heartbreaking situations as we flash back and forth between her in the wild and in her home life. Through these sometimes distressingly real flashbacks, we learn why Cheryl is one this journey of self cleansing, what went so wrong in her life that he has to walk 1000 miles, it turns out quite a few things went wrong. Cheryl had a failed marriage, mostly because she was unfaithful to her husband and worked her way down the rabbit hole, eventually becoming a Heroin addict. Cheryl decides that she has indeed messed up, turning her attention to expediting on a 3 month long hike.
Of course coming from Jean Marc Vallee, an emotionally compelling story seems like a guarantee but "Wild" is surprisingly funny, there are dramatic, tense and heart tugging moments but laughs are allocated throughout making this a highly entertaining biopic.
Witherspoon strips down figuratively and in some instances literally and gives the most raw and real performance of her career. Laura Dern plays Cheryl's mother, Bobbi, who like Cheryl has seen her fair share of cruelty yet takes it all in stride and never lets go of the positives. She was beaten by her husband yet is still thankful because he gave her the two children that she now raises alone. "Hold on to your best self" Bobbi stresses to Cheryl as she criticizes her for being joyful.
The film plays out in a non linear way, we learn things that have happened in Cheryl's life as her journey progresses and some of the reasons why she's doing this in the first place take too long to come to fruition. Some of the flashback scenes don't seem to go anywhere, for example Cheryl's pregnancy, we never learn what happens with that, it almost seemed forgotten in the story.
Other than that, "Wild" is an incredibly entertaining film, packed with powerful performances, an unexpected sense of humor and a character you care about. I strongly recommend "Wild"!