Why You Should Go See Reese Witherspoon In Her Best Role Yet In Wild

Lesson number one: learn to forgive yourself. Lesson number two: avoid getting a giant horse tattoo on your arm.


by Helena Hamilton |
Published on

What have we got here then? This is the film adaption of Cheryl Strayed’s super successful memoir Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found. It’s the story about when, after years of self-destructive behaviour including heroin addiction and adulteration following the death of her mother, twenty-something Strayed attempted to heal herself by independently trekking the formidable Pacific Crest Trail.

Looks great, tell us more? The film is essentially about healing and forgiveness. Cheryl forces herself to go down one punishing and gruelling path in order to leave the other that exists in her real life. It's pretty relatable stuff for even the most 'together' of twenty-somethings.

So is it all about Reese out there alone? Cheryl’s isolation is definitely an important part of this film, but the desolate, lonely scenes of her one-woman trek are sandwiched between flashbacks of memories. There’s also some other really brilliant performances to enjoy other than Witherspoon’s, although hers is very, very good.

Any favourites? Gaby Hoffman plays Cheryl’s supportive and straight-talking best friend in a way that makes us all wish we had someone like her in our lives. Laura Dern’s performance as Cheryl’s mother is also really impressive, nailing a balance of vulnerability and an all-knowing, optimistic protector.

Any stand-out moments? More than a few; notably the scene in which Cheryl’s character proudly explains, ‘I’m the girl who says yes instead of no,’ during a flashback scene, when confronted for her bad behaviour. Also, at the beginning, we see Cheryl removing her hiking boots at the top of a mountain to find that the nail on one of her big toes is hanging from the skin. She screams as she rips it off, setting the painful-but-for-a-good-reason theme into motion.

What’re other people saying? The film has had pretty positive reviews and of course Reese Witherspoon was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance, of which The Telegraph called a ‘major comeback… She etches everything in front of her with colour and clarity, even when the flashback sequences mean she's being asked to embody Cheryl at fully half her own age’.

What’re we saying? We liked it. It would have been nice to see more flashback scenes from the days between when Cheryl’s mother got ill and her initial steps towards the downward spiral, because as a viewer you kind of see Cheryl jump from a responsible daughter caring for her mum to a cheating junky, but perhaps those memories have been blocked out by the character, or she can’t pinpoint the significance of them, so they can’t be relived. Overall though this film is definitely one to go see – and if you haven’t yet, give the book a go, too.

*Wild is in cinemas 16 Jan *

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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