Film Review: WILD

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee
Written by Nick Hornby, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffman, Thomas Sadoski

This is the story of Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon), who went into a tailspin after the death of her beloved mother (Dern), had affairs, took drugs, spun out of control. When her marriage collapses under the weight of her bad behavior, she decides to straighten herself out by hiking the Pacific Coast Trail entirely on her own and with very little hiking experience. The movie spends time on her relationship with her mother (which comes across as a little too fizzy to me), her bad behavior, the trials and hardships of her hike. A few too many men appear to be predators–well, almost all of them come to think of it. I was almost relieved to see a real snake instead of another threatening male.

But these are minor misgivings in a movie brave enough to show an often unlikable woman and Witherspoon runs with it. By the end of her very long trip (she goes all the way to Mt. Hood), you feel she has earned her redemption. You know she has a story to tell and indeed she did. WILD has been an incredibly successful book. Witherspoon proves again she is an actor to be reckoned with.

Patti Abbott