Movie Review: Wild (2014)

Posted: October 3, 2015 in Drama


Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) is a young woman with a myriad of problems.  She just got a divorce, she was unfaithful to her husband with a number of men, she was pregnant with a child, and she didn’t know who the father was, she has a heroin addiction, and her mother, Bobbi, (Laura Dern) is dying of cancer.  Instead of caving under the weight of those problems, Cheryl decides she is going to hike the 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail by herself. Does she complete her journey and exorcise the demons that have plagued her life thus far?

I did not like Wild at all.  I know it’s supposed to be uplifting to see this woman attempting an impossible goal like this, but it wasn’t, her whole life just seemed like one depressing event after another.  Forgive me if I don’t root for a woman with a heroin habit, who sleeps around to feed that habit, and whose mother is dying of cancer.  This is an unrelentingly depressing movie, and Cheryl’s idea of redemption is walking 1,100 miles looking like a hobo, finding shady men along the way who either want to sleep with her or rape her.  I stopped caring about Cheryl Strayed very early on.

Other than a passing resemblance to Cheryl Strayed, there is nothing to really recommend Reese Witherspoon for this role.  She has a small, tinny, voice that can be grating on repeated viewings. The only role she really immersed herself in was when she played June Carter Cash in Walk The Line, but there is no such immersion here, so the performance is not that good.  Laura Dern pays a woman who’s dying of cancer, abused by her husband, and yet inexplicably cheery. All the male characters are transitory types, so no actors really get a chance to do much.

The direction is annoying, the story is not told in a completely linear way, whenever Strayed has a memory, there are flashes of a flashback, and these quick flashbacks interrupt any flow the story has, and doesn’t really provide any backstory.  The story is too long, and the pacing is slow, and the director gets no good performances from the two leads, Witherspoon, or Dern.

Wild:  Pretty tame.


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