Ever felt the need to walk 1000 miles to find yourself? Maybe not. But Wild is a highly cathartic experience, filled with the ruggedness of human will and a look into the mendings of a broken soul. I’ve not seen much of Reese Witherspoon but in this one, she delivers a knock-out performance. Wowza. It’s a bold attempt to chart the psychological course of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) and Jean-Marc Vallee has delivered it with nuance and direction. No doubt the scenery is beautiful, landscapes of earthly hues are breathtaking and at the same time, liberating. Wild is one woman’s journey to walk the mile,free herself and be reborn anew.
I’ve got to say Wild is a highly endearing film. For people who identify with self-realization and actualization, it’s a rewarding meditative journey. Most of us wouldn’t be clinging on to life’s tenterhooks like Cheryl, but that doesn’t take anything away from our ability to sympathize with her plight. Reese Witherspoon strips off her usual cutesy charm for a rugged and roughed up look of a survivor in the wild. Her monologues resonate with a surreal quality as she re-ignites a beaten soul. When she trudges the terrain, her struggle to overcome any obstacle physical or metaphorical, is authentically portrayed. I cannot give enough props to Reese for her performance. Truly wild!
In brief, Wild follows the journey of Cheryl Strayed who decides to walk 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail to find direction in her life after tumultuous events that are shown through a non-linear flashbacks. The death of her mother, divorce and years of wasting her life away through sex, alcohol etc are all vividly shown. Laura Dern who plays mother Bobby gives another strong female voice, whose just as complex as Strayed. She’s been such a positive spirit for Cheryl, which makes her death unbearable. In a sense, one could perceive her journey as a form of escapement, but life for Cheryl no longer holds meaning. She basically lives as a shell full of regret and self-hate; Her incredibly tough journey acts as a cathartic experience from which she renews herself and regains hope. It’s possibly one of the last few things,if not the only thing, which she can do that affords her time away from societal intrusions/influences whilst providing a challenge tough enough for self-healing and realization.
One element of the film that’s subtle but sophisticated is the multiple interactions that Cheryl has with people (Plump kind farmer, perverse stalker, group of trekkers, even more trekkers, charming man, girl with similar problems etc). The theme of interaction is pretty significant which might seem ironic given the nature of her journey. Cheryl is continually being challenged to ‘open up’ and trust complete strangers. Indeed, only when Cheryl is honest with herself and others about her vulnerability and predicament, can she move on from her past demons.
Wild manages to sustain our interest through its non-linearity. Flashbacks are frequently used to interject current events. Sometimes it gives us a blurry landscape of a troubled mind, that desires to be free but at the same time, derives a nostalgic quality that makes moving on so much more complex. Far from just giving us perspective on Cheryl’s fractured past, it acts as emotional baggage that weighs ever so heavily on Cheryl as well as the mood of the film. In the end, the film is brilliant because whether Cheryl has let go of her past, and in what letting go actually means for Cheryl (given that there are worthwhile memories to cherish too), is ambiguous. Hope is possibly the only thing achieved through her gruelling journey. Perhaps, it is all that one ever needs.
Rating: 9.4/10 There’s nothing much to say. Watch it for yourself and be amazed. Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Cheryl Strayed will forever be inspiring.
Tell me what you think! 🙂