Wild: "There Is A Sunrise And A Sunset Everyday And You Can Choose To Be There For It"

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Writer:    Nick Hornby
Starring: Reese Witherspoon
               Laura Dern
               Thomas Sadoski
               Michiel Huisman
               Gaby Hoffman
               Kevin Rankin
               Brian Van Holt
Rating:    *****

Release Date: Out Now

Reese Witherspoon is one of those actresses who has made a name for herself by playing the pretty, innocent good-girls, so Wild is something that I was shocked to hear her involvement in; which was very wrong of me. The film is based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, a recovering herion addict, and it is a story of one woman pushing herself to the limits, both physically and mentally. It mirrors beautifully the journey that Witherspon has taken as an actress, she has taken a risk and put herself up on that screen with no airs or graces, just her, a backpack and the camera.

Reese Witherspoon
There is a beautiful juxtaposition throughout the film, with each strenuous and painful obstacle thrown at her, there is the beauty and serenity of the American scenery behind her. As Witherspoon treks along the Pacific Crest Trail, we are treated to glimpses of Strayed's past life; her marriage falling apart, her addictions and her flings with various men. It is clear from the word go that Cheryl is trying to escape from her past, and it isn't until each puzzle piece is put together that the reason becomes more apparent. She had a very close bond with her mother (Dern), and growing up they were each others support; but when Cheryl's mum sadly passes away it sends her life into a spin and it wasn't long until Cheryl had lost control. 

This is not the first time there has been a Man Vs' Nature film, and it always lends itself beautifully to a dramatic piece of cinema. That being said this is one of the first films (that I know of) where it is a young woman taking on the world in such a way. Right or wrong, as an audience it is slightly harder to watch because the idea of a young woman taking on a challenge so grueling, is quite a daunting idea. Luckily, director Jean-Marc Vallée never takes the chance to exploit the character or over-indulge in the slightly darker moments, for instance a  rather menacing character Cheryl runs into on her journey could have been dealt with much worse than it was.This means that this story soon becomes a story of a woman becoming empowered, a woman taking control of the world and fighting to get her life back to some resemblance of what it once was. It allows Cheryl to be given the title of "The Queen of the PCT" by other hikers.

Laura Dern
It is a sad fact that there aren't many films that give female empowerment such a strong voice, still in the 21st century...baffled. Luckily Wild fills that hole in Hollywood's market, it goes leaps and bounds above other films out there at the moment to show a woman being strong by herself; no men, no glamour, no fluff. The film is paced wonderfully and has been blessed with a strong script by by Nick Hornby, that paired with Vallee's dry humour sprinkled troughout and the film is a real dream to watch. To stop the film from getting to dark or overplayed the director gives you the right to laugh at what is happening on screen, often with the character and how much she has bitten off.The metaphor of the backpack is also used really well, without being in your face (I only realised it was there as I sat to write this post). As she journey's on her pack get's lighter, just like her emotional baggage gets easier to deal with as she hikes onward.

The hike is made to feel harder than any journey thats been seen before because we are constantly getting reminded of the emotional back story behind her decision, and you feel proud of her for dealing with everything using strength and poise. It never feels awkward, or shoehorned into the script. Vallee manages to make each transition from past to present seamless and organic to what is happening on screen at that moment. Witherspoon, in one of her best performances to date, is wonderful in this film, and is a huge asset to the story and making it work. She plays it gutsy, vulnerable and dignified, and while so much happens to the character in this film, you can still visibly see Strayed growing in strength despite her challenging travels. Well done to Witherspoon for taking the audience on that emotional journey with Strayed, and doing it with her pure, natural talents.

Wild - Trailer