Walking yourself back to yourself: a review of the film Wild


Wild: a film review

What do you do when you are lost?  What do you do when the life you are leading no longer bears any resemblance to the person you thought you were?

In the case of Cheryl Strayed, you go for a very long walk.  Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon, veered so far off her own life path that she no longer recognised herself.  And her solution?  A 1,100 mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail.

WildTP_Books-330Directed by Jean Marc-Vallée,  the film Wild walks beside Cheryl from the Mojave Desert to Washington State; written by Nick Hornby and Cheryl Strayed (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail)  it is a film about the interior journey of a young woman who, through the grief of losing her mother, took a wrong turn into a world of sex and heroin.

Ill-prepared for such a journey, Strayed can barely lift the pack that she carries and finds that she has made many errors; her boots are too small, the gas bottle is the wrong type, she fails to heed the warnings about carrying sufficient water.  But, for these problems, there are solutions.   As she walks, she gains knowledge and experience.

But the hours and days in isolation allow her time to look back at her life’s narrative and let it unravel.  As she writes her journal, so we see the undoing of her life which, at points through the film, brings her to her knees.

This film does not have the major dramas of other solo films such as, for example, Castaway or The Life of Pi, but it is in the quiet, almost understated drama of the interior world that this film happens.  It made me laugh, and made me cry.   It made me cringe and turn my head away (no spoilers, as to why!) and it made me anxious.  I felt the pain of each step and the frustration of each error.  Reese Witherspoon gave a stunning performance and I would highly recommend it!


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