Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Nick Hornby
Based on: Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Keene McRae, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffmann
Seen on: 19.01.2015
Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) needs to get away from her life that keeps crumbling around her. So she’s decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail, despite not really knowing anything about hiking. Things are hardgoing at first, but bit by bit, she finds not only her pace and the right amount to pack and bring along, but peace with herself.
Wild is a well-made film with an excellent structure and a wonderful lead actress that taps into something that many (middle-class, white) women are looking for. I enjoyed it.
Shortly before I saw the film, I read this (and in particular this bit) and I kept thinking about it during the film. Because Cheryl is a white woman out on a trip to find herself and I’m a white woman watching her and thinking, “you know that is kind of awesome, maybe I should do something like that, too.” Because despite knowing that I would hate myself in the second hour and despite not being sporty at all, every once in a while, I, too get these fantasies of stripping my life down to the bare essentials and do something (physically) challenging all on my own. You can’t always escape your own cultural background.
Anyyyway, back to the film. You’d think that a film that is mostly about a woman walking through landscape on her own could be pretty boring, but actually Hornby and Vallée managed to create a surprisingly diverse and well-paced story from that set-up. We not only get meetings with other hikers, but more importantly, we get Cheryl alone on the trail with her memories. The way these flashbacks are woven into the story is one of the most beautiful things about the film: we get little bits and impressionistic pieces as well as entire scenes and together they do form a well-rounded picture of Cheryl’s relationship with her mother (the wonderful, amazing Laura Dern).
But most of the film still rests on Witherspoon’s shoulders and she carries it with ease. Whether she is finally coming to terms with things, cursing her own stupidity or finds herself in an uncomfortable, uncertain situation, Witherspoon is completely there, embodying Cheryl’s trip perfectly.
In the end it’s a film about a woman trying to get along with herself, without the help of drugs or a romantic relationship. She tests her own strength and she sets her own course. And even though that quest for self stuff comes from a privileged position, I find that there are worse things to do with your privilege than to send out this message.