Saturday, January 10, 2015


Movie Name: Wild
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann, Thomas Sadoski, Keene McRae, Michiel Huisman, W. Earl Brown, Kevin Rankin, Brian Van Holt, Cliff De Young, Will Cuddy
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Following the extremely well received "Dallas Buyers Club", director Jean-Marc Vallee is back, with another intimate character study. "Wild" follows the true life story of Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl is a young American woman, who in 1995, following the death of her mother from cancer, embarks on a cathartic trekking excursion, around 1000 miles across the Pacific coast of the country. Cheryl throughout her trip reminisces on her relationship with her mom, with her ex husband, and how her inability to deal with grief and pain, led her to a life of promiscuity and drug related experiences. During her painful trekking, Cheryl comes to terms with her own life, choices, and where she wants to see herself going.
"Wild" is a film that introduces the audience to the central character in a very straightforward fashion - the director shows us in the first moments of the film, that Cheryl is not a traditional sports/trekking person - whatever has drawn her to that point in time is dramatic and traumatic to justify where she is and what her actions and reactions are. The film lives from the portrayal that Reese Witherspoon makes of this young woman, who came from a battered house life, and whom with the help of a resourceful and gracious motherly figure managed to grow up peacefully and loved. The passing of her mother, is what throws the character into disarray and when she finally hits rock bottom, the figure of her ex-husband shows up to provide some reaffirming energy for her to get back on her feet. The film smartly blends flashbacks with the "pilgrimage" that is the core to what Cheryl is doing. Sadly though, the film never expands much on how Cheryl exactly was as a person, aside from the fact that she went from being a high schooler, to a young married woman whose mother passes away and who ultimately becomes unable to process grief. Reese Witherspoon tries to mix all these traits of a personality (the loving one, the angrier one, the promiscuous one), and yet, there's never a real sense of the person Cheryl wants to be (or of who she effectively was to begin with). Laura Dern equally has little to do throughout the film - there are plenty of shots of her looking at the sun, or the sun touching her skin, which for some reason on recent films has become a synonym with a person with an inner life and substance, however, her character is even more uni-dimensional. This is a film that features a beautiful cinematography from Yves Belanger and a strong performance from Reese Witherspoon, however the sum of its parts does not make it an indelible film.