Wild – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

January 16, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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A road movie with blisters?  As someone who likes her outdoors neatly packaged, I wondered if Wild would hold my interest. There are indeed plenty of sores and blisters but as the miles are chalked up, it becomes so much more.

Based on her best-seller, Wild charts the journey of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) who made a solo 1100 mile trek on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the state of Washington around 20 years ago.

At the trek’s start she is so overloaded with equipment, she can barely get the gear off the ground and onto her back.  A camping novice, she has taken the wrong fuel for her camp stove.

It doesn’t look too promising for Cheryl and there is the temptation to chuck it all in.  She has things to prove and discover even if she doesn’t know exactly what. Director Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) has crafted a tale that leaves nothing out but doesn’t overwhelm the central story arcs.

As she trudges the track, in blazing heat as well as deep snow, her history is explained in flashbacks. Cheryl is haunted by memories of her beloved mother Bobbi (Laura Dern), the breakdown of her marriage to Paul (Thomas Sadoski) and heroin addiction.

As days and miles progress she becomes more competent and confident. There are charted rest stops en route where mail can be picked up and notes compared with other hikers.  At the first stop, a more experienced hand has her empty her pack and re-evaluate everything, no matter how small. She jettisons the stuff she can do without and sets off with a lighter load.

I suppose this a metaphor for her life. Through the loneliness of the journey’s hard slog she is forced to relive the past and consider her future. It’s an extraordinary adventure for anyone to undertake and while Cheryl might be brave or mad, we can share her pain and admire her fortitude.

In this well written tale of hardship and redemption by Nick Hornby, Witherspoon inhabits the role completely.  The soundtrack captures the mood and the scenery is, as you would expect, wild and magnificent.

When a young man draws over on a highway, it is not to offer a lift to the next part of the trail.  He writes for a hobo (tramp) magazine and despite her denials that she is not a hobo, takes her photo and gives her a goody bag.  When you have been living on reconstituted food for weeks, a packet of chips is a luxury.


2014 In cinemas January 22 Rated MA

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee

Written by Nick Hornby

From the memoir by Cheryl Strayed Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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