Though I can’t say that I’ve gone through this kind of experience, I certainly know people that would love to start their lives over again. Perhaps the dreams they were originally seeking weren’t as good as they turned out or they hit a roadblock that’s put a halt on their plans. Regardless on what they went though, they want to move on with a rebirth of some sort. To change one’s persona depends on what kind of person one is. For someone that already had a lot of responsibility, that may just involve going on a fitness regime or a newly decorated home.
Those that have very few priorities are going to need something more crucial. In the case of some, that requires traveling. I’ve said before that everyone has a little bit on wanderlust within. They have to look at a new landscape to get a new perspective on themselves. How they travel is completely up to the person about to make this journey. I would rather travel first class, but I understand those that want a little more challenge. A hiking or walking trip is the best option here. One woman with little wilderness experience takes that challenge in Wild.
In 1995, a young woman Cheryl Strayed (played by Reese Witherspoon) has gone through a lot that has put her into a bad path. She was raised by her young mom Bobbi Grey (played by Laura Dern) who taught her to always be positive about life, even when everything seems bad (including that the father was an abusive alcoholic). She ends up passing away from Cancer in her forties which puts Cheryl into a state of drugs and sleeping around. This prompts her husband leaving her and without a clue with where to go with her depression.
She decides to hike that Pacific Crest Trail by herself from Southern California to Oregon. Knowing that accomplishing this trek could give her the rebirth needed, she buys a ton of camping equipment, packs up at a motel and sets off into the desert. Since she is by herself, this gives her all time to her thoughts and memories of growing up. She occasionally comes across other hikers who give her tips on what to see and even provide a hot meal, though this is clearly Cheryl’s journey to make. The hot sun and snowy environment push her to extremes she could have never imagined.
I will make this clear that this is no wilderness survival story; she’s never in true danger and is never too far from civilization. This is more like a road trip story. And as these kind of movies go, Wild is a very good road trip to take upon. The surroundings give director Jean-Marc Vallée (also directed Dallas Buyers Club) all the opportunity to show off the beautiful landscapes of the path. Dusty California and the evergreen Oregon looks magnificent here. Something tells me that the Army-Navy stores are going to be selling more backpacks this year.
Reese Witherspoon clearly went though a lot for this character and it shows. She’s relatable in her situation and pulls off one of my favorite female performances of the year (2014 I mean). Laura Dern is a likable mother that really sad to see go when the movie reveals it.
What separates Wild from other road trip stories is that this has a non-linear structure. This could have been the movie’s fatal flaw, but works really well as each flashback lets you know more about Cheryl and her personal problems. This is something that Man of Steel should have done before.
I’ll give this five hiking backpacks out of five. There is plenty in this story to like, though those expecting something more traditional are not going to find it here. It’s non linear flow and constant thoughts from Reese are the thing to hold it back from making it mainstream, but I think most people will be open to it. If you can’t make this hike, then at least hike yourself somewhere to watch Wild.