Running Time: 115 min
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Keene McRay, Kevin Rankin, Gaby Hoffman
Sometimes life writes the best stories. At least that appears to be the case with travelling or backpacking films. But what exactly fascinates us about movies that basically just consist of a person walking around? Well, it's most likely the motivation behind it, and as a result, these kinds of films can turn out to be very interesting character studies. Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild" is an excellent example for that.
The movie tells the true story of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who hit rock bottom and leaves everything behind to go on an incredible thousand mile hike. On her way she is not only faced with physical challenges, but also tries to figure out what kind of person she is and ultimately, what kind of person she wants to become. Thus, Reese Witherspoon had to carry a lot more than a huge backpack on her shoulders, as the whole movie relied on her performance. But what a performance it is. It seems like Witherspoon put her heart, soul and body into her portrayal of this troubled woman, and there is a genuineness to it that makes it very easy to relate to her. Eventhough usually expressed by voice-over, at points you know what she is thinking just by the look on her face.
But big credit also needs to be given to director Jean-Marc Vallée, because in the end it is the combination of him and Witherspoon that makes this movie feel so real. He starts the film with the start of the trail, and gives us the backstory of the protagonist only through her thoughts and memories. They way he ties these inner processes into the film is impressively dynamic. As she makes her way through dry lands, rocks or snow, something small catches her attention and, wether it was audible, visual or just a feeling she has, reminds her of something in her past. Sometimes it stays small and other times it forms into a whole memory, just like it would in reality, but it is always just enough to give the viewer a deeper understanding of this woman's life with every bit.
So, superficially there really isn't a lot happening in this film, but under the surface it is the absorbing story of a person's fall from grace and her need for self-discovery after that. Striking both visually and contentwise, it is a sensational emotional journey, that is worthwhile for the attentive and patient viewer. If you are a traveller yourself, you might find shades of your own experiences in there.
For Fans of:
Into The Wild (2007)
127 Hours (2010)
Cast Away (2000)
Click Here To Watch Trailer!
And check out my friend's review over at B.A.'s Screentest for a second opinion!