Plot – A chronicle of one woman’s one thousand one hundred mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy – Wild
Director – Jean-Marc Vallée
Genre – Drama
Released – January 2015
Probably not the best time to watch a film about going on a 1200-ish mile track across along the pacific coastal trail, but I had heard so many good things about Witherspoon’s performance and how engaging the film is, I decided to give it a shot and I’m happy to say how pleasantly surprised just how uplifting the entire experience and surprised just how much I was able to engage with the story. Most of this is down to Witherspoon and how much she has movies on as an actor since her Oscar win for Walk the Line.
As the film centres on Cheryl’s decision to become an independent walker, tracking miles on her own and not seeing another person for days on end, the acting from Witherspoon needed to be strong, but luckily as mentioned above, she was able to give an incredibly convincing performance.
Her powerful acting and the amount of screen-time devoted to her story made it easy for me to buy into her as Cheryl, with the majority of other characters brought to use through the use of flashbacks and people she meets in passing along her journey. Though these are very much supporting characters, helping to show what Cheryl was like before, her transition along the journey and finally her transformation.
In some films the use of flashbacks can break up the film and make it less enjoyable, however, in some it works well to highlight how different the person is from the person they were, The Imitation Game is one such example of a flashback sequence and Wild is another. Witherspoon’s ability to switch between the contrasting roles was impressive, and the editing involves was excellently handled.
The direction from Vallée was also handled wonderfully, the way in which he chose to film Wild gave me a feeling of hope, even during the darkest of moments, whilst at the same time there was an atmosphere that something bad might happen at any minute. When Cheryl bumped into others along the way or encounters difficulties, I had them on-edge feeling that things might get worse before they get better for her.
The cinematography also plays a part in making the film feel as uplifting as it is, the varied wildlife that Cheryl experiences along her journey is beautifully shot and give off an almost magical in parts, contrasting wonderfully with the flash-back sequences that feel drained of life.
Overall, Wild is an emotionally driven and extremely personal movie, that’s packed with wonderful direction and a powerful message of redemption stemming from a strong solo performance from Witherspoon.