Wild begins fairly well. We see a vast, wide, rough, mountainous terrain and hear a woman’s loud, heavy panting. A heavy, booted foot lands on the edge of a rock. The woman (Reese Witherspoon) collapses with a loud groan of pain and relief.
Her shoulder length blonde hair is straight and scraggly. Her sweaty skin looks as sun beaten as a dry leaf. Her simple Tee shirt and shorts reveal a strong and not so sexy body. Basically, very normal, very human and very unstarry and un‘Legally Blonde’. She takes off her shoes. The sight of a broken, bleeding toenail makes one wince as much in pain as her.
Then, a shoe falls off the rock. And you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop throughout the movie, in a way more original than any thousand-mile trek. Actually, a real documented trek by a regular trekker, might be more interesting and adventurous than this lone glorification of the healing of a single woman’s pain.
Wild goes on and on about how much pain there is in Cheryl’s life caused by her mother’s death and divorce. Interspersed with too many flashbacks of childhood and growing up, without much detail on her marriage; the two hour introspective narrative, similar to Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, grips only during mundane struggles with a huge haversack and tents and small gas stoves.
Based on the writer, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, the film, written by Nick Hornby, is a lone woman’s journey of healing and a slice of modern feminism.
Cheryl has grown up with an abusive father and a strong cancer stricken mother (Laura Dern) who brings her up along with her brother, with much love and lots of dance and music in the kitchen to keep her spirits up. But Cheryl’s own inner strength comes to the forth only after she numbs herself with heroin filled days and nights of hook-ups with strangers. She decides to finally take charge and move on by venturing into the wild, unknown Pacific trail from south California to Oregano.
Throughout the slow and painful trudge, her slim shoulders bent with a huge and heavy, blue haversack; metaphorically carry the painful baggage of her deep sorrow of the past.
However, every flashback seems contrived and the pain more artificial. The only thing that looks real is Witherspoon’s own looks and performance.
Perhaps, the 1100-mile hike may be worth it for her nomination to the Oscars after her phenomenal Walk The Line.
But it’s not reason enough for the audiences to enjoy Wild.