Based on the Memoir WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, WILD certainly has generated its share of buzz on the Festival Circuit pre-Awards season. Reese Witherspoon goes through yet another reinvention here in a Career which has seen both Oscars for her turn as June Carter Cash and massive teen fandom in the adored Legally Blonde franchise. In an already successful year which has seen her win quiet victories in a Producer’s role for massively-successful Gone Girl and also roles in The Good Lie and forthcoming Inherent Vice, it absolutely would not be a shock to see Witherspoon on the podium once again in the coming months for her work in WILD. Her work here definitively is that good.
Directed by Canada’s Jean-Marc Vallée, the Film recalls Strayed‘s 1,000 mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail as a means of healing, following the loss of her young Mother Bobbi (Laura Dern) and some terribly self-destructive behaviour, ending a seven-year marriage to Husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski). Told in a non-linear fashion, we get glimpses of her inner-demons through recollections of the past. We get right into Strayed‘s psyche and see her fears manifest in the wild, some more irrational than others. Like Cheryl, we fear as a vulnerable young Woman if she will be able to complete her journey with several perceived imminent dangers.
WILD strikes a fine balance between the suspenseful – we never are “out of the woods” in terms of feeling safe – and deeply emotional, particularly poignant in its Mother-Daughter Story Line due much to the heartbreaking performances from the Film’s two Lead Actresses. Whether it be Dern‘s effervescent zest for life or Witherspoon‘s cynical spiral down and spiral back up again. The tossing of vanity in lieu of full commitment has us enthralled at every point. You will be left mesmerized and uplifted without any sense of agenda. A short, but unforgettable performance by Child Actor Evan O’Toole late is purely cathartic and you might find it almost impossible not to cry.
An eclectic and moody Soundtrack from Portishead to Simon & Garfunkel to Pat Metheny Group, pairs perfectly with Cheryl‘s recollections, transporting us effectively to different places and times in her mind. Cinematography by fellow Canadian Yves Bélanger also is stunning, perfectly pairing landscapes with Cheryl‘s mindspace.
Fox Searchlight release WILD as follows:
December 5, 2014 – Toronto
December 12, 2014 – Vancouver
December 19, 2014 – Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal
December 25, 2014 – Halifax, Kitchener/Waterloo, Ottawa, St. Johns, Victoria, Winnipeg.